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Stephen A. Smith Admits He Wanted Max Kellerman Off First Take

“Smith felt the chemistry wore thin as they approached year six together on the air.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

Stephen A. Smith told Hot 97 he would address Max Kellerman’s exit from First Take, and he joined Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg on Thursday to do just that.

Reports surfaced that Smith is the driving force behind Kellerman leaving the show. The two worked together on First Take for five years before Kellerman moved on to co-host ESPN Radio mornings and headline his own afternoon TV show.

“The rumor’s accurate in terms of me wanting him off the show,” Smith said of Kellerman. “Let’s get that out the way. Yes, I did. 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.”

Smith felt the chemistry wore thin as they approached year six together on the air. The host was absent from Kellerman’s final days on the program but did call in to wish him well on his last show.

“In the nine years that I’ve been on First Take, I’ve given over 33,000 takes,” Smith added. “It’s a chemistry that you have and sometimes it just stalls and the audience lets you know it is what it is and you feel the need for something fresh.”

The highest-paid ESPN talent made it clear he didn’t want Kellerman fired, but instead, have the network utilize his talents in other ways.

“It wasn’t really about asking him to be off the show,” Smith explained. “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.”

The writing was on the wall during the final few months of Kellerman’s time on First Take. Smith lamented having to debate basketball with his old co-host multiple times on the air. Now he has his pick of the litter when it comes to a debate partner for the upcoming NBA season.

Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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