Beginning June 4, Stephen A. Smith is joining ESPN2's “First Take” as the regular debate partner for Skip Bayless, and Bayless couldn't be happier.
“I have wanted this to happen to happen for about 12 years,” Bayless said. “This is like the heavens opened and he is now able to join me on a show that we rebuilt though the fall to make it an all-debate show.”
Ratings for the show, hosted by Jay Crawford 9-11 a.m. weekdays, have been growing. For second quarter-to-date, its audience is up 58 percent from 2011 among all viewers and 63 percent for the key male 18 to 34 demographic. Bayless said the addition of Smith, who has been a regular contributor, should boost ratings even more.
“He is very excited and I'm very excited because we think there is one more level to achieve in what we think have been sensational ratings.”
Bayless said producers are considering bringing “First Take” to Oklahoma City if the Thunder reaches the Western Conference Finals.
For Smith's June 4 debut, the show plans to introduce a redesigned set, graphics and logo.