According to an article in the Washington Post, ESPN is running focus groups on High Noon as the show’s hosts’ contracts get set to expire. Ben Strauss notes that nothing has been decided yet, but as the network’s “high brow” show, High Noon is starting to stick out in the ESPN lineup.
ESPN’s looming decision on High Noon has a lot of people in the sports media industry talking. The show has already seen format and time slot changes since launching last year. October viewership was below an average of 300,000 per day according to ShowBuzzDaily.com. Those facts combined with the salaries of hosts Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre will likely play a role in the network’s decision.
President Jimmy Pitaro’s desire for more nuts and bolts sports coverage has lead to some lineup and personnel changes at ESPN. Outside the Lines will lose its weekday time slot. Jemele Hill, Bob Ley, and Kate Fagan are amongst those that have exited. Jones and Torre and their sports conversations seem more in line with what and who is leaving ESPN as opposed to Pitaro’s long term vision for the network.
What has to be considered though is the appeal of Jones and Torre. As Strauss writes they are “both minority hosts in their 30s who appeal to a highly educated audience, and they have sizable digital followings.” Surely those facts will weigh heavy in any decision as ESPN continues to try to innovate with its digital presence.
Strauss writes that both Jones and Torre will see their contracts expire in early spring 2020. The results of focus group testing will likely play a role in upcoming negotiations for each man.