Marchand: Are McAfee’s ratings worth the ESPN headache?

Following the recent controversial comments made by Aaron Rodgers on The Pat McAfee Show, there’s speculation about whether ESPN will continue to tolerate such incidents for the sake of McAfee’s impressive viewership numbers. According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, since migrating to ESPN in September, McAfee’s show has garnered 583,000 viewers from Stephen A. Smith’s First Take, which is a significant drop of 48% as McAfee now holds 302,000 viewers.

While these numbers remain strong for a weekday afternoon program, the question arises: are they sufficient to justify the associated challenges? Marchand points out that, on certain days, FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd has come close to surpassing McAfee, boasting a 19% increase in audience over the past year with an average of 156,000 viewers.

Although McAfee’s viewership is still roughly double that of The Herd, the overall question is whether it’s a worthwhile investment for ESPN, ABC, and Disney. Despite McAfee’s quick apology for potential defamation issues involving Disney colleague Jimmy Kimmel, it raises concerns about the future of the partnership, especially considering McAfee’s history of leaving ventures early.

If the relationship persists, there’s uncertainty about what the next challenges might bring and whether they could strain the partnership. Marchand suggests that McAfee, known for his early exits, may not see the five-year McAfee-ESPN deal through to the end. However, there’s a recognition that McAfee has options, including streaming on YouTube and creating a subscription service, which could be successful.

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In essence, for the collaboration between McAfee and ESPN to thrive, adjustments may need to be made, particularly if McAfee’s show doesn’t maintain half of the audience provided by First Take.

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