Sports TV News
SVP SportsCenter Debuts Sept. 7
After months of planning, preparation and rehearsal, the new midnight (ET) edition of ESPNSportsCenter, hosted by Scott Van Pelt, will premier Monday, Sept. 7, immediately following ESPN’s telecast of the game between No. 1 Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
The longtime ESPN anchor, who also previously hosted a program on ESPN Radio, will introduce a different version of SportsCenter, presenting the world of sports as seen through his unique perspective.
“Scott and a team of very talented and creative people have been working hard to be ready to launch a new and entertaining midnight SportsCenter,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “The show will deliver what sports fans are used to fromSportsCenter but in a different and fast-paced way, led by the intellect, humor and sports fandom of Scott Van Pelt.”
Much as was done on the previous SVP & Russillo radio show, the program will showcase Van Pelt’s passion for sports, with his self-deprecating wit and disposition toward celebrating stars and storylines.
“It’s still SportsCenter,” said Van Pelt. “It’s still a show that at its core is about whatever has happened that day in sports – highlights and stories – and not a variety show. It’s our interpretation of what SportsCenter would be if you blended it with some room for commentary. The crux is that it’s SportsCenter, just our version of it.”
While presenting the day’s news and highlights with Van Pelt’s own spin, the program also will offer commentary, guests and interviews, with featured elements that set it apart from other editions of SportsCenter, including:
- One Big Thing — the trademark essay from Van Pelt’s radio program
- Bad Beats — games that had a unique resonance in Las Vegas
- Best Available Video — the fun, extraordinary images of the day
- Best Thing I Saw Today — Van Pelt’s nightly pick of the signature moment/topic
- Oh, No! — a kinder, gentler, and shorter version of the SportsCenter “Not Top 10,” presented with empathy
- West Coast Bias — a feature designed to serve fans who watch at 9 p.m. PT, at times including 1 a.m. SportsCenter anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verrett.
- Where in the World Isn’t SVP? — Tweets from fans who see lookalikes of Van Pelt at places around the world
“Our thought was ‘how do we create a long list of possible ways to just take a different approach to stories?’” Van Pelt said. “It’s a great group of creative people, and we’re far from done. September 7 is when the show starts, but we don’t have to be done then. Our list of ideas won’t end that day. That’s just the first day we take a stab at it.”
Music will play a large role in distinguishing this edition of SportsCenter from others, with a special new cut of the SportsCenter theme produced by Timbaland in collaboration with Jingle Jared for jingle punks. Also, Van Pelt favorite Trombone Shorty provides music for a regular football season Thursday segment called “Winners,” a carryover from his radio show.
New graphics have been designed especially for the program and the show’s set will have a refined desk, lighting and overall positioning for a differentiated, intimate feel.
Key members of the show’s staff include producer Tom DeCorte, director Rodney Perez and “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, a former producer of Van Pelt’s radio show, who will have both an on- and off-air role, appearing on-camera for segments and also helping to book guests and conceive show ideas.
The program will be found on Twitter with the hashtag #SCSVP, as well as Van Pelt’s @notthefakesvp and @SportsCenter.
The premier of the show coincides with the 36th anniversary of the launch of ESPN on Sept. 7, 1979.
“That’s an honor,” Van Pelt said. “They tried something different 36 years ago, and we’re trying something just a little bit different here.
“The good news for me is that I have 36 years of what’s been great about ESPN and what’s been great about SportsCenter behind me, so I can stand on the shoulders of all the folks who have built it.”
Credit to ESPN Media Zone who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Amazon Sports: We Like Smaller Leagues, But Major Leagues Will Be Focus
“When fans are already on our service, we can use that to create culture and content in a way we couldn’t otherwise. It’s a great microphone to have as a service.”
Amazon continues to make its claim in live sports rights, but it’s also gotten into original sports storytelling as well.
The streaming giant has found success with documentary-style shows like Good Rivals, which chronicles the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico in soccer, as well as Coach Prime, which has been following hall of famer Deion Sanders on his collegiate coaching journey. Both of which have garnered Sports Emmy nominations.
Matt Newman, Amazon’s Head of Original Sports Content, said at the sports and entertainment event 4se in New York City that it’s amazing to be able to make compelling content outside of the big five leagues.
“Naturally the majority of our volume will be in the bigger, major sports, but we’d love the opportunity to kind of tell these stories you may not have heard of,” he said. Newman was promoting an upcoming series on the Professional Bull Riders called The Ride. “And these new stories, these characters will give us access and give us a chance to tell a story in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
Amazon is trying to compete with the likes of Netflix, which have created similarly successful programs like Formula 1 Drive to Survive and Full Swing with the PGA Tour.
But Newman reiterated that live sports will always be the main focus in terms of content.
“We are investing in our live rights. We have a great deal with Thursday Night Football, we just announced a renewal of WNBA live rights,” he said. “When fans are already on our service, we can use that to create culture and content in a way we couldn’t otherwise. It’s a great microphone to have as a service.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.