ESPN’s new 6 p.m. SportsCenter show, SC6, with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith has been almost impossibly polarizing.

Depending whom you ask, SC6 might be another brave venture away from a stale old highlight-centric model and toward a personality-driven one, as well as a deserved showcase for two talented people with styles and backgrounds that give the show a fresh feel. Or it might be a sad departure from the SportsCenter of yore, featuring an inexperienced duo that most of their audience doesn’t relate to.

In some ways, SC6 is a referendum on ESPN’s new direction with SportsCenter. Though we’ve seen several SportsCenter iterations in the last couple years break from the time-tested template, this one goes further than any before. If the show succeeds, ESPN might feel emboldened to experiment with more non-traditional highlight shows, and if it fails, the network might reconsider the personality-centered approach.

For this reason, a lot of people feel invested in the success or failure of this show.

(How Smith and Hill look and speak undoubtedly also affects how people view SC6, which is a thorny subject that deserves deeper consideration another day.)

SC6 has only been on the air for two weeks, but some early ratings are in, via Sports TV Ratings, and given all the interest, we’re going to put aside our small-sample-size concerns and share them.

So, acknowledging that these are very, very early returns, here’s what we know about SC6’s ratings so far:

So basically, SC6 is doing fine. Yes, viewership is down from corresponding days last year, but a lot of that clearly owes to a greatly diminished lead-in from PTI (which has to be a bit troubling in itself for ESPN, but that’s another conversation).

ESPN devoted a lot of energy to promoting SC6 and surely would have loved to start off with incredible ratings, but this is certainly not the disaster some of the show’s skeptics predicted. The guess here is that ESPN higher-ups are satisfied, if not thrilled.

Of course, you can’t really learn much from seven days of ratings on a show designed for the long haul. The jury is definitely still out on SC6 and probably will be for a long time.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.