Mike Greenberg and ESPN’s Get Up morning show are coming to afternoon TV.
Greenberg and his Get Up team are planning four ‘double-header’ show days during the first week of July, ESPN confirmed to Front Office Sports.
To capitalize on fan interest around NBA free agency, Greenberg will host four afternoon Get Up specials on July 1, 2, 3 and 5.
When ESPN bosses asked Greenberg if he wanted to add afternoon shows on top of his morning shows, his reaction was immediate – hell yes. It also reflects that after a rocky start, his 14-month old Get Up has found its footing.
“It’s a wonderful indication that the people that I work for believe in what we’re doing,” said Greenberg. “It’s a high-profile spot — during a really big week.”
Greenberg thinks Kevin Durant could decide on a team that week. He’s thrilled to do double duty during a week that will reshape the NBA.
“I’m really hopeful that stuff will be breaking while we’re on live. That’s just fun and exciting,” he said.
Greenberg’s show will lean heavily into NBA coverage, and will likely be joined by NBA-focused ESPN talent such as his Get Up co-host Jalen Rose, Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst, Jay Williams and Richard Jefferson.
The four specials will air from 4:30 p.m to 6 p.m on ESPN. Get Up will continue to air in its normal weekday morning slot from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those morning episodes will switch to ESPN2 that week due to Wimbledon coverage on ESPN.
The vote of confidence by ESPN brass indicates Get Up is in growth mode after initially stumbling out of the gate in 2018.
Original co-host Michelle Beadle split after only four months on the air — blasting the sport of football on her way out the door. Get Up struggled to reach 300,000 daily viewers early on. ESPN shortened its new flagship morning show by an hour, cutting it to 8-10 a.m. from its original 7 -10 a.m time slot.
All along, Greenberg and his co-hosts and producers kept tinkering, embracing fun new segments like ‘Sneaky Big News’ while dumping others. The ‘Sneaky Big News’ segment is a particular favorite of Greenberg’s since it allows the cast to go in-depth on a story viewers might not have noticed. During the 2018 NFL season, things clicked.
With ‘Greeny’ directing as point guard, Get Up became quicker, newsier, and more nimble. Maria Taylor and Laura Rutledge became rotating co-hosts alongside Greenberg and Rose. ESPN personalities like Louis Riddick, Paul Finebaum, Ryan Clark and Rex Ryan emerged as informative, entertaining guests.
With First Take also moving to New York, Stephen A. Smith began making frequent appearances on Get Up. That helped create a more integrated four-hour programming block from 8 a.m to noon.
The result? Get Up is on track to post three straight months of double-digit TV increases from April through June. It’s heading for a possible fourth straight month of audience growth.
Through June 19, Get Up is averaging 337,000 viewers this month. That’s up 19% compared to the comparable 8 am to 10 am time slot last June, when it had 283,000 average viewers. In May, the show’s average audience grew 22% year-over-year to 341,000, up from 279,000. The numbers were even better in April, with Get Up growing its average audience by 30% year-over-year to 348,000, up from 268,000 in 2018.
In recent years, ESPN has been fending off challenges from FS1’s rival morning shows First Things First and Undisputed. ESPN says its average viewership of 337,000 through June 19 in the 8 am to 10 am time slot nearly triples FS1’s 124,000 average viewers.
Those improvements are also making the show a draw for advertisers amid TV’s spring selling season. ESPN ranked as the No. 1 cable network for men aged 18-34 years old and men 18-49 in that time slot through June 19th.
Get Up early struggles were likely due to Greenberg and Beadle simply not clicking on the air, according to writer Bobby Burack of The Big Lead. which has tracked the show’s ebb and flow since its launch.
“Together, the show felt like an NBA team trying to ensure two players got enough shots while neither were making enough of them to win half their games,” he said.
Since the changes, Taylor and Rutledge have emerged as future ESPN stars. And Greenberg’s back to the quick-witted host that made him a star on Mike and Mike in the Morning.
“Get Up went from being a challenging show to watch to now being one of ESPN’s best daily shows,” Burack said.
If the first 14 months of Get Up were about big adjustments, the show now has the luxury of focusing on small adjustments, according to Greenberg. He believes things are on schedule for a new show finding its way.
Looking forward, Get Up may or may not hire another full-time host who’s a football expert. Greenberg wants the show to stay agile, changing on a dime to cover the biggest sports stories of the day.
In the future, some Get Up episodes will be more news driven, while some will be more debate-driven. Some might be about a single topic.
If Durant signs next week, for example, Greenberg would be “stunned” if that day’s Get Up discusses literally anything else.
“That show would be completely different. It would be produced totally differently. It would be hosted totally differently than our show was today,” says Greenberg. “But the same people are going to do it. That is something you only get with time…That what I think we have evolved to, which is what I’m most encouraged by.”