SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship since 1979, will launch a series of enhancements beginning next month and continuing through early 2018.
The new SportsCenter Right Now initiative will bring news updates to both digital and television platforms during daytime hours as well as during halftime of televised prime-time sporting events. And with ESPN re-signing many popular SportsCenter anchors to new, multiyear deals, the television lineup also will be revised.
All enhancements are part of the continued expansion of the multiplatform SportsCenter brand to better serve sports fans and their changing viewing habits. More updates will be announced later.
“SportsCenter seeks to serve sports fans with singular talent, exceptional news coverage and unprecedented accessibility,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “We plan to be essential when fans awaken, exhaustive whenever fans need a highlight, score or news update, and entertaining pre-game, in-game and postgame.
“As our audience and its needs change, we change to serve those fans and meet their needs. We always have, and we always will.”
New SportsCenter Updates Daily in ESPN/ESPN2 Daytime and in Prime Time Games
Beginning in late August, SportsCenter will start producing up-to-the-minute news updates that will be seen on both digital and television platforms. SportsCenter Right Now will appear multiple times per hour on ESPN.com and in the new home-screen video player on the ESPN App. Content will be produced specifically for the digital platforms, with the content topics determined by the use of real-time analytics to ensure that the updates are centered on the questions and conversations in which sports fans are most passionately engaged.
This comes as SportsCenter’s presence has already been growing on digital products. So far in 2017, sports fans have logged an average of 2.9 million views of SportsCenter videos per day on ESPN digital platforms, with nearly 380 million total SportsCenter video views on ESPN digital platforms to date this year. Additionally, fans have logged some 33.4 million hours of time streaming SportsCenter on WatchESPN and the ESPN App.
In addition to the digital platforms, SportsCenter Right Now updates will air twice hourly within ESPN daytime programming. The updates will begin August 28 in First Take and will expand in placement and frequency over the following months.
When fully deployed, the television updates will run between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET and the digital updates will be produced between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Frequency and times could be adjusted with breaking news. Featuring SportsCenter anchors including Toni Collins, the TV and digital updates will originate from SportsCenter’s multi-faceted studio in ESPN’s state-of-the-art production and data management facility, Digital Center-2.
SportsCenter Right Now also will be integrated into the live telecasts of some of the biggest prime-time sporting events on ESPN and ABC with reports that will air during halftime of events such as ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the NBA Finals on ABC, ABC Saturday Night Football and more. As part of ESPN’s normal mix of halftime interviews and game analysis, SportsCenter anchors including Scott Van Pelt, Kenny Mayne, Steve Levy, Neil Everett, Stan Verrett and others will present fast-paced segments designed to entertain and inform fans and entice them to enjoy SportsCenter’s unique postgame and late-night coverage. The halftime segments will begin during the upcoming college football season.
SportsCenter on TV Expands Emphasis on Personality-Driven Programs
Following the launches of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt (midnight ET) in 2015 and SC6 with Michael and Jemele (6 p.m. ET with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill) earlier this year, SportsCenter continues its emphasis on personality-driven programs with some lineup changes.
Longtime SportsCenter anchors Steve Levy, Kenny Mayne, John Anderson and John Buccigross have signed new deals to continue with ESPN and will be the hosts of the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter. For the first time in nearly a decade, Mayne will anchor from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios on a recurring basis beginning June 5. Two of the four will host most weeknight editions of the program as well as some weekends, and the new deals assure the creative core of SportsCenter’s signature postgame experience will remain intact for years to come.
Also returning to Bristol will be Sage Steele, who has signed a new, multiyear deal and beginning in late August will anchor SportsCenter:AM from 7-10 a.m. ET Monday-Thursday. Steele also will continue to lead SportsCenter on the Road coverage from major events such as the Super Bowl, the Masters, the NBA Finals, Veterans Day and more.
SportsCenter:AM will now be seven days a week, with Kevin Negandhi, Jay Harris, Randy Scott, Elle Duncan and Matt Barrie joining Steele as anchors. The Friday-Sunday shows will focus on the big sports action of the weekend and will identify fun, offbeat locations for weekend SportsCenter on the Road programs.
Neil Everett and Stan Verrett will continue to anchor the 1 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter, which originates from ESPN’s Los Angeles studios and re-airs during the overnight hours, with Mayne and others filling in as needed.
As part of a new deal to remain with ESPN, Hannah Storm, currently the host of the 10 a.m. ET SportsCenter, will have a new, prominent role, including hosting prime-time specials and providing high impact journalistic pieces to key properties such as E:60 and SportsCenter.
Sarina Morales, formerly a contributor to SportsCenter:AM, is now contributing to all editions of SportsCenter as a Fan Correspondent, finding fun and unusual ways that fans express their love for sports.
Content from SportsCenter Right Now will also enhance the brand’s already-strong social media presence, where it is the most social television program so far this year, according to data from Shareablee. Across major social platforms SportsCenter has industry-leading reach, with more than 32 million followers on Twitter, nearly 13 million “likes” on Facebook and 9.2 million Instagram followers. Additionally, SportsCenter is a core part of ESPN’s content on its YouTube channel and in ESPN’s daily presence on Snapchat Discover, which is among the most popular of any brand.
The emphasis on personality for SportsCenter programs has resulted in strong performances across social media platforms. For instance, the SC6 video paying tribute to the TV program “A Different World” had more than one million views, more than 8,500 re-tweets and more than 14,000 likes on Twitter as well as more than one million views on Facebook between the pages of Hill and Smith. Videos from SC6 also appear on TheUndefeated.com, ESPN’s multimedia content platform focused on the intersection of sports, race and culture.
SportsCenter will continue to air on ESPNEWS from 7-11 p.m. on most weeknights. For the remainder of 2017, it also will continue to air on weekdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., including SportsCenter Coast to Coast. More details, including additional anchor assignments, will be announced at a later time.