‘First Take’ Will Move to ESPN Next Year

Stephen A. Smith-Max Kellerman debate show is set to essentially swap spots with “SportsCenter”

Last Updated: November 11, 2016 @ 8:04 AM

“First Take,” which airs on ESPN2, will move on up to regular ol’ ESPN next year.

The Stephen A. Smith-Max Kellerman debate program will basically swap spots with “SportsCenter” beginning Tuesday, Jan. 3. “First Take” runs live from 10 a.m. ET to noon, which will not change. The former “Cold Pizza” will still re-air on ESPN2 daily.

Molly Qerim moderates “First Take.”

We couched the switch with “basically” because it’s actually a bit confusing. “SportsCenter Face to Face,” an interview-based show hosted by Hannah Storm, will take the first ESPN2 hour. After that, the two-hour “SportsCenter Coast to Coast” — hosted by David Lloyd in Bristol, Connecticut, and Cari Champion in Los Angeles — will air from 11 a.m. to noon on ESPN2.

The second hour of “Coast to Coast” will remain on ESPN — that is, with the exception of Jan. 3-6, when the final week of “His & Hers,” hosted by Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, will air in the time slot. Hill and Smith will become co-anchors of the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” on ESPN beginning Feb. 6.

We told you it was confusing.

The promotion feels a bit overdue for the strong ESPN2 performer. The Disney-owned Worldwide Leader in Sports expects TV ratings to grow even more when moved to the main channel, a representative told TheWrap.

“‘First Take’ and ‘SportsCenter’ are two strong, complementary franchises airing on two strong, complementary platforms,” Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling said in the media release. “We have always demonstrated a willingness to take a fresh approach with our network schedules and this move is the latest example of that thinking.”

Kellerman replaced the outgoing Skip Bayless on the program earlier this year. The polarizing Bayless moved to Fox Sports 1 and similar debate program “Skip & Shannon: Undisputed.” While “Undisputed” has unquestionably helped FS1’s TV ratings, they’re nowhere near “First Take” Nielsen numbers.

Here are the revised ESPN and ESPN2 schedules:

The ESPN weekday morning lineup as of January 3:
6 a.m. – “SportsCenter” (reair)
7 a.m. – “SportsCenter:AM” (live)
8 a.m. – “SportsCenter:AM” (live)
9 a.m. – “SportsCenter:AM” (live)
10 a.m. – “First Take” (live)
Noon – “SportsCenter Coast to Coast” (live except January 3-6 when “His & Hers” airs on ESPN)
The ESPN2 weekday morning lineup as of January 3:
6 a.m. – “Mike & Mike”
10 a.m. – “SportsCenter Face to Face” (live)
11 a.m. – “SportsCenter Coast to Coast” (live)