Tuesday October 3, 2023

New ‘Undisputed’ Closed Gap With ‘First Take’ In Premiere Week

  • Skip Bayless’ revamped show jumped from 78,000 on Thursday to 126,000 viewers on Friday, his second-biggest audience since returning.
  • Stephen A. Smith’s “First Take” viewership dipped from 336,000 on Thursday to 307,000 on Friday.
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Skip Bayless’ revamped “Undisputed Live” on FS1 started to close the ratings gap against Stephen A. Smith’s rival “First Take” on ESPN at the end of its premiere week.

On Thursday, Bayless’ weekday “embrace debate” show averaged 91,000 viewers vs. Smith’s 336,000, according to sources. 

But on Friday, with NFL Insider Josina Anderson making her debut, “Undisputed” pulled 126,000 viewers vs. 307,000 for “First Take” — the second-biggest TV audience for Bayless since he returned from a two-month hiatus on Aug. 28, with a new cast including Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, and Richard Sherman. 

The rebooted show’s Monday premiere drew 131,000 viewers to 448,000 for “First Take,” but by Wednesday plunged to 78,000 viewers vs. 423,000.

“That [Wednesday number] was almost impossible to believe,” warned one source. “That’s former fans actively choosing not to watch.”

Friday’s audience was still below the 154,000 viewers that “Undisputed: Skip and Shannon” averaged during former co-host Shannon Sharpe’s final episodes in June, and “First Take” continues to average nearly three times the audience of Bayless’ “Undisputed Live.”

Stephen A Smith vs. Skip Bayless

Skip Bayless’ Revamped Show Falls Short Of ‘First Take’ In Ratings

Skip Bayless’ revamped show has not resonated in TV ratings race.
September 1, 2023

It’s difficult to draw conclusions from one week of ratings — especially since the new NFL season won’t kick off until Thursday night. 

Part of the reason for the 71-year-old Bayless’ nine TV lives is his support of the Dallas Cowboys. The first win, or loss, by America’s Team could drive “Undisputed Live” viewership into the 200K-plus range.

With Anderson, Rachel Nichols, Nick Wright, Emmanuel Acho, and Lil Wayne joining the cast, the new and improved “Undisputed Live” is still finding its footing. Bayless had a rocky first week trying to juggle the moderator and opinionist roles. He also inexplicably took a back seat to opinionated cast members like Irvin.

But Sharpe himself was visibly rusty on Labor Day as he joined Smith’s rotating crew of guest debaters on “First Take.”

The six-year veteran of “Undisputed” accidentally called Smith “Skip” not once, but twice. 

On Tuesday, Smith wore a name tag to goof on his new co-host. “Hello, my name is Stephen A,” read the tag.

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