ESPN’s master plan to transform Get Up into a successful morning show has taken another step forward. On Wednesday, ESPN announced that each day of the week would have an NFL analyst and a college football analyst that would show up on the show every week during football season, which was rumored a month ago after strong viewership failed to materialize over the spring and summer.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) August 22, 2018
The college football analysts are Dan Orlovsky (Monday), Jesse Palmer (Tuesday), Paul Finebaum (Wednesday), Marcus Spears (Thursday), and Jonathan Vilma (Friday). The NFL analysts are Rex Ryan and Victor Cruz (both on Monday), Ryan Clark (Tuesday), Damien Woody (Wednesday), Adam Schefter (Thursday), and Louis Riddick (Friday).
This is all well and good, but the question still remains: why should I watch this show? All of these analysts pop up on ESPN’s airwaves all week (especially Finebaum, who hosts a daily radio simulcast, and Schefter, the network’s top NFL reporter). If I’m a huge Finebaum guy, am I really going to make sure to watch Get Up on Wednesday in addition to watching/listening to his radio show?
Furthermore, the only one of these analysts that people seem to have strong feelings for (either positive or negative) is Finebaum. I’m curious if ESPN really thinks that people are going to suddenly start tuning in to Get Up because they know Ryan Clark, or Jesse Palmer, or Marcus Spears is going to be on the show that day.
I, and I assume most viewers of morning shows, don’t go out of my way to watch based on the guest hosts/analysts. If I turn MLB Central on in the morning, it’s not because it’s Wednesday and because I know that like, Jon Paul Morosi will be on the show because it’s Wednesday. I watch the show because I *like* the show at its core, and I like the regular hosts, and I like vibe and feeling of the show. In the four or so months since Get Up has been on the air, that core viewership level has been so low and disappointing that trying to improve it on the margins by adding rotating guest analysts is completely missing the point of why people aren’t watching.
But at this point, ESPN will do whatever it can to salvage Get Up and drag its ratings up to a respectable level. As of Monday, the show had reached 300,000 viewers just 14 times in 98 episodes (which is an arbitrary number, but one the show should easily be able to reach), and while one could reasonably assume there will be a spike in viewership once football season starts, ESPN probably won’t just be judging an increase as a success. Instead, they’ll likely be comparing a potential increase to its other shows to see if Get Up’s viewership is increasing (or decreasing) at a similar, larger, or smaller rate. If it’s increasing at a smaller rate (or decreasing), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the plug get pulled and ESPN to pivot, probably back to a morning SportsCenter, given Norby Williamson’s desire to rehabilitate that brand.