Stephen A. Smith and ESPN’s show First Take have seen their ratings drop drastically following the departure of co-host Max Kellerman. Smith, who has unapologetically acknowledged that First Take needed a change, now faces an early decline in numbers that has reportedly landed the show amongst the worst at ESPN. 

With Kellerman’s out of the picture, ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption is now leading the ratings by a wide margin, followed by sports roundtable debate show, Around the Horn. Even Get Up, the early morning sports TV show that precedes First Take, has a higher viewing audience than Smith’s show, as OutKick’s Bobby Burack reports.

First Take’s recent ratings drop has come as a surprise, along with Stephen. A’s persistence that the show needed to go in a different direction. Smith previously called his relationship with Max “not a great partnership” on Ebro’s Hot 97 radio show in early September. 

In terms of wanting Kellerman off the show, Smith told Ebro during that same interview, “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.”

Stephen A. continued, “In the nine years I’ve been at First Take I’ve given over 33,000 takes. And what a lot of people don’t realize is, not just the work that goes into that, but also the fact that there’s a chemistry that you have and sometimes, it just stalls.”

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Later in the interview, he added 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.”

Kellerman served as the co-host on First Take for the last five years, and has since joined Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams on their own ESPN morning radio show. Max’s new show, This Just In, premiered for the network on September 14th, as well. 

Watch Stephen A. and Ebro’s entire interview here:

[via]

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