On Wednesday, ESPN issued a press release touting the success of ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ after four weeks.
The numbers seem impressive. The release notes McAfee’s show has 242 million total views over its first four weeks and 17 shows, averaging a reach of 1.4 million and maxing out at 1.9 million on ESPN’s linear networks and YouTube.
When digging deeper into the data, much of that success is coming digitally rather than on ESPN itself.
The two-hour block on ESPN has topped out at 415,000 viewers over its first four weeks on the air (for the show on Friday, September 22, live in South Bend). Its lowest viewership on ESPN came just last week for the show on Thursday, September 28 (just 201,000 tuned in on ESPN).
The Pat McAfee Show averaged 277,000 viewers on ESPN over its first four weeks.
However, the show is thriving on YouTube.
Through the same four weeks, the full three-plus hour YouTube edition of ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ is averaging 500,000 viewers, topping out at 763,000 for the show on Wednesday, September 15, with a low viewership of 368,000 on Thursday, September 28.
Clips from McAfee’s show also rack up numbers on YouTube. ESPN’s release said that clips on YouTube, the ESPN app, and social media totaled 213 million viewers over the first month, and without tallying the numbers, I can believe it. On YouTube, 11 clips from just the last two days have averaged 144,000 views and totaled over 1.5 million views. That’s a good week for the two-hour broadcast on ESPN’s linear network, and McAfee’s YouTube channel is pulling it for two hours’ worth of clips from two days.
While the success on digital platforms is excellent, ESPN will eventually need more success on linear from McAfee. The company uploads clips from other studio shows, like ‘First Take,’ on YouTube and social media, and many of those bring in numbers comparable to or even in excess of those for McAfee’s show (one from Monday has cracked one million already). And unlike ‘The Pat McAfee Show,’ ‘First Take’ also draws impressive linear viewership. A release last week touted an average of 505,000 viewers for ‘First Take’ in September, the show’s most-watched month ever.
For ESPN, this isn’t the worst problem to have. McAfee’s digital audience is quite strong. The linear viewership hasn’t kept up or hit the heights many may have expected, but we’re still talking about a small sample size. As the football season rolls along, it seems likely that viewership will increase as McAfee becomes more of a fixture across ESPN’s programming lineup.
This is a strong base for the show, but there’s still plenty of room to grow.