ESPN’s newest television creation is almost a week in, and it remains mystifying. Together, Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre have left the sports world with more questions than answers. Yet, that feels like an accomplishment.
From the first A-block with the hypnotizing music noticeably playing as they spoke, it was clear Erik Rydholm (PTI, Highly Questionable, Around the Horn) wasn’t going to go ordinary. If one was of the mindset sports networks should swing for the fences with a different type of show, the fences have been swung at.
From the numerous moving camera angles, the old western style theme (hence the show name), the huge white bar on top and bottom of the screen, and the cinematic presentation, High Noon can already claim victory in less than a week in a category many shows cannot, and that is chemistry. Jones and Torre have chemistry, therefore, for 60 minutes ESPN presents two friends hanging out and joking about sports. Imagine the two smart kids at the lunch table some students love, others just don’t get …
High Noon will unequivocally draw comparisons to the last two shows added to the network, SC6 and Get Up. Neither of those are accurate comparisons as both never felt aimed toward the same type of audience that will need to embrace High Noon.
Jones and Torre’s show does not feel aimed at the everyday sports fan, but instead clearly aimed in the direction of the sports fan that wants sports discussed in a much less serious way. High Noon will likely become more attractive to the sports fan that consumes The Dan Le Batard Show, Highly Questionable, and Pardon My Take as opposed to the show many are comparing it to PTI–or the show it immediately follows: First Take.
Whether or not it will be a success in doing so remains to be determined. Currently, ratings are down 15.6% year over year (June 5 -7 2017 vs June 4 -6 2018) from the noon SportsCenter that it replaced. That is on par with last week when SportsCenter drew 377 on Tuesday and 349k on Wednesday (Monday, May 28 was a holiday where it drew an unordinary 747 — all numbers according to Showbuzz Daily). It is also important to note, the target audience may consume the show in ways that are not calculated just by linear television ratings.
Early on, the show seems at its best on days and segments that are not centered around major sports stories. The weakest segments were when they were handcuffed into talking about Game 2 or 3 of the NBA Finals. When it came to topics such as them reading comical quotes, or debating “Crayfish or Crawfish,” the opposite can be said.
Is it too political? Jones and Torre did jump into Donald Trump and the NFL this week, but that was unavoidable. No real conclusion can be had based off the past week. But it is hard to imagine based on the flavor of the show, and the network’s past issues, that this will be a common occurrence.
This was not a movie that auditioned actors and actresses, it was a film that cast two actors and the storyline was created from there. Some of the most successful shows can be mimicked. That will not be the case here. This show was created for Bomani and Pablo.
What High Noon can do is become innovative. It will take seconds for critics to give their opinion, it will take months to determine if the show is a ratings success, but as of right now, the show is a QB that comes into the league and bring a completely new style to the field.
The cameras look like nothing ever seen before on sports programming, the banter is not comparable, the show is weird. But weird can be good if done right. It is still early, and this one feels like it is being done right.
Gut feeling, it might not happen next week, but one year from now, High Noon will be a success. The reason is, they took a risk.