In the world of sports broadcasting, ESPN's morning show 'First Take' is the golden child.
Since the show's premiere in 2007, it has been widely praised by viewers for its simplistic format, engaging topics, and charismatic cast. In fact, the formula for 'First Take' has been replicated many times by both ESPN and other networks, including FOX, whose 'Undisputed' debate show features former 'First Take' star, Skip Bayless.
And while Stephen A. Smith's presence on the usually popular program remains one of the biggest factors of its success, the loss of Max Kellerman could prove disastrous.
Earlier this year, Kellerman was abruptly booted off his role for reasons that still remain unclear to the public. The only thing we know for certain is that Stephen A. himself apparently played a strong part in the decision.
"The rumor's accurate in terms of me wanting him off the show. Let's get that out the way -- yes, I did," Stephen A. said on a recent appearance on Ebro in the Morning. "We don't have a bad relationship. I think he's a real good guy, I appreciate what he did for the show, we were number one for five years, we stayed number one, and I appreciate that. It wasn't really about asking him to be off the show, it was about the fact that I knew that we, together -- as far as I was concerned -- was not a great partnership anymore and that was something that needed to change."
Following Max's departure, the show has gone in a different direction, choosing to feature a rotating panel of experts to debate Stephen A. Unfortunately, this approach hasn't quite worked out so far.
Stephen A. said on radio he saw numbers that suggested @FirstTake's viewers wanted Max Kellerman off. The early ratings say otherwise.
This week, First Take is losing to Get Up and NFL Live, in addition to PTI and ATH:
Get Up: 408K
NFL Live: 413K
On social media, fans have started to take notice, which could set up a rather embarrassing situation for both the show and the network as a whole.
All-in-all, it's looking like ESPN might have made a big mistake dismissing Max from 'First Take.' While it's too early to say for certain, the results certainly haven't been good so far.