Pasadena, Calif. -- ESPN came to Television Critics Association winter press tour Friday to showcase its new morning talk show Get Up, but network executives and talent could not dodge questions from TCA critics about the network’s recent struggles.
The daily series, which launches April 2 and hosted by network personalities Mike Greenberg, Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle, will look to balance traditional sports news coverage with sports talk elements, according to Bill Wolff, ESPN vice president.
“We’ll do the sports and the news and the information, but I think we’ll also try to be the table setter for a whole day of talking about sports,” Wolff said.
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Wolff defended questions about whether the network needs a new morning show by saying that people still watch television prior to starting their day, so it’s a great time to aggregate an audience for the show.
“Mornings, we believe, are still at a moment … where part of people’s routines still includes television,” he said. “It’s one part of the day when television I think is more common in any American household than it might be at other times of the day.”
Rose added that the show will look to cover all major stories and events relevant to its audience. "I think we really take pride in not forcing topics, so if there is something in any genre of sports, politics, entertainment, pop culture -- and we think the fans want to hear about it -- we will discuss it, regardless to whether ESPN owns the property or not," he said.
The panelists also addressed the surprise departure of ESPN president John Skipper last month, with Greenberg saying he was “stunned and saddened” to hear of Skipper’s decision to resign to seek treatment for a “substance addiction.” He also said that recent employee layoffs at ESPN were “very difficult” for those still working at the network.
“Certainly seeing people laid off is something no one wants to see,” Greenberg said. “It’s very difficult, whether they’re people you’ve known for years or someone you’ve never met --wherever it happens, it’s a reality of life in corporate America right now. It is certainly terrible to see.”