ESPN Brags Ratings Are Up 19% Since They Fired Jemele and Mike on SportsCenter

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This morning ESPN sent out a press release that might as well have been a full facial, balls in the face hanging on the rim Scottie Pippen dunking on Patrick Ewing style rebuke to Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, the former hosts of the 6 PM WokeCenter on ESPN.

Here’s the Tweet:

Quoth the release:

“Viewers are responding to the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter, with the program on track for four consecutive months of year-over-year viewership growth.

With Sage Steele and Kevin Negandhi taking over as consistent anchors on May 14, the program averaged 531,000 viewers through the rest of the month, up 19 percent over the 447,000 average for the same period in 2017.

The 6 p.m. SportsCenter has been keying on delivering fans up-to-the-minute news, previews and analysis of the night’s slate of games and events. For the quarter of April, May and June to date, the program has averaged 491,000 viewers, a six percent rise over the average of 463,000 for the same period last year.”

You can read the full release here.

First, congrats to Sage Steele and Kevin Negandhi on the sterling job and the resulting ratings win. It turns out if you give sports fans sports and leave out the left wing politics, viewers respond favorably.

Second, it’s amazing to see ESPN dunking on Jemele Hill and Michael Smith like this. Today’s “Hollywood Reporter,” which features an article about the battle for the soul of ESPN, WokeCenter vs. Traditional sports, says each of them has a $10 million dollar contract at the network. (Seriously, how much coke was former ESPN president John Skipper doing?!) This is now the second press release ESPN has sent out trumpeting how much better their flagship show’s ratings are doing since they fired Jemele Hill and Michael Smith off WokeCenter and tried to go back to SportsCenter.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any other company publicly dunk on their own employees like this before.

It’s unheard of.

The Hollywood Reporter also includes this nugget in their article: “When Hill, who became a lightning rod with critics dubbing the show “WokeCenter,” left in February, Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vp and executive editor of studio production, quipped in front of a room full of people: “One down, one to go.”

Why is ESPN doing it?

I think it’s clear they are hoping that Jemele and Michael will leave. The problem is, no one is going to pick up anywhere near these salaries for them to work anywhere else. They’re like Gilbert Arenas back in the day with his NBA contract. So overpaid that before long ESPN is going to tell them just to leave and stay at home while their contracts run out.

In the meantime, damn, watch your back in Bristol.

Because someone is finally standing up to WokeCenter.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.