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.
Jemele and Mike out here trying to take the charge and ESPN’s like… pic.twitter.com/WX4KSMHiOn
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 20, 2018
Here’s the Tweet:
SportsCenter at 6 p.m. ET viewership is up!
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 20, 2018
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.”
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.