‘Get up’ needs holiday to polish act

It was early the morning of July 4, and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle, live on the air, asked a probably bigger-than-she-intended question: “Why are we here?”

It was not a philosophical or religious query, and it really did not sound like a complaint, but with Beadle and co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose on the set together the “A-team” for ESPN’s weekday morning TV show, “Get Up!” was working on a holiday.

Holidays typically mean backup hosts in the seats on sports radio and TV shows. No matter the network and no matter the show, having a full on-air starting lineup together on a holiday is unusual.

Even worse, with Wimbledon airing on ESPN, the “Get Up!” crew was appearing on ESPN2 throughout the first week of the month.

When Colin Cowherd worked summer holidays a few years ago, when he was still at ESPN, he framed it as me-doing-more-for-you thing, serving the audience. The fact that it was a time tradeoff for subsequent days off was not part of the discussion.

It’s doubtful Beadle, Greenberg and Rose were trading, though.

They were working the holiday for several reasons — because they need as many chances together as possible to get better, because the heavily funded show has been lightly watched, and because it’s hard to believe many people would have noticed their absence anyway.

Since its debut on April 2, “Get Up!” has struggled to find its footing. While the three co-hosts have their own strengths — and have been standouts for ESPN in other situations — together they’ve been less than the sum of their parts.

Plus, having them work July 4, on ESPN2 (a lesser-viewed channel) was apparently part of the plan all along. So, planning might be part of the show’s problems as well. And the problems are plentiful.

Along with making three seemingly likeable folks less likeable together, there are silly standing segments, such as Beadle playing cornhole with guests. Plus, the show seems no different or special than anything else ESPN, or any other sports network. It’s debate and discussion, heavily formatted segments and just not all that enjoyable to watch.

It’s a shame because the three, individually, rank among ESPN’s potentially more valuable talents.

A Twitter account has sprung up to track the show’s viewership. It notes when “Get Up!” exceeds 300,000 viewers per day. Through the first part of this month that had happened just 13 times in the show’s first 65 episodes.

After a heavy investment in marketing and salaries for the show, “Get Up!” also faces some pressure. Success matters, and while any show takes time to craft a personality, the patience for this particular program might last only another six weeks or so.

Football season should be a strong time for ESPN programming, especially something like “Get Up!” and if viewership does not start to increase, some format and talent additions or changes could be coming by early September.

Tuner tidbits

n Tonight at 6 WHVL-TV airs the first of two live broadcasts of State College Spikes home games in the coming weeks. The second airs at 6:05 p.m. July 22.

n ESPN/SEC Network reached a contract extension with analyst Paul Finebaum. There had been reports he might leave those outlets (his contract expired at the end of this month the of this month), but they seemed unlikely — just because he’s valuable and fits there. That’s especially true in the more personality-less viewer category noted above. Rumors about him moving to Fox Sports and even the Big Ten Network seemed more like a negotiating ploy than reality. Still, it would have be interesting. Perhaps the only place other than the SEC West where his schtick might work might be the Big Ten East, but so much of his caller-driven radio background might be hard to replicate in other markets.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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