Jenna Wolfe, who was previously a correspondent for the Today Show, will join FS1 to host First Things First, The Big Lead has learned from a highly-placed source. First Things First is the morning show with Cris Carter and Nick Wright that is launching on Tuesday, Sept. 5th. Unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, the source requested anonymity.
Wolfe was first reported as a candidate to host the program by Michael McCarthy of Sporting News in mid-July.
First Things First is going to be an interesting experiment for Fox Sports. The show will bring the network one step closer to having wall-to-wall, original debate programming from dawn to dusk — the only spot unoccupied now is when an Undisputed re-run airs in between The Herd and Speak for Yourself. Fox is hoping that Carter, Wright, and Wolfe provide a formidable lead-in to Undisputed, whose launch a year ago helped to bolster numbers for The Herd.
There is, pun somewhat intended, a debate over how successful FS1’s attempts to take on mighty ESPN during weekdays have been. On one hand, as Richard Deitsch points out regularly, Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless are consistently and dramatically outdrawn by children’s programming and various syndicated reruns of long-defunct shows. On the other, Undisputed has been on the air for less than a year, viewer habits take a long time to adjust, and for 5.5 hours every day FS1 has siphoned off 10-15% of the viewership totals from ESPN and ESPN2, and forced ESPN to almost punt on ESPN2 in fortifying mornings on the Mothership with First Take.
This Fall will be a big barometer. How many viewers a day would be considered a success for First Things First between Labor Day and the New Year? 60,000, for example, is better than nothing, but it’s also not as though the show is free to produce. However, if it could help push Undisputed and The Herd to be regularly over 200,000 viewers a day this Fall, that would, in my opinion, be a pretty good story to tell.
A Fox Sports spokesperson declined to comment; Wolfe’s agent did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Disclosure: The Big Lead’s editor in chief Jason McIntyre is an on-air personality for FS1.