ESPN’s signature show which expanded in 2008 by six hours on the Mothership from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. East now expands even further. This time by seven hours and it will be on ESPNews. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron late last month, Sr. Vice President for Content John Skipper mentioned that viewership for ESPNews had been in decline and an announcement would be made in 30 to 60 days (scroll to the bottom of the interview).
Well the decision came today as it was reported by USA Today’s Michael Hiestand.
We now have the official press release from ESPN mentioning the expansion of the SportsCenter brand.
SportsCenter Expanding With Seven Live Weekday Hours on ESPNEWS
Blocks From 3-6 and 7-11 p.m. ET Starting Aug. 30; Integrated Digital Content Planned
ESPN’s definitive sports news brand, SportsCenter, will expand by seven hours each weekday beginning Monday, Aug. 30, when ESPNEWS offers live SportsCenter programs from 3-6 and 7-11 p.m. ET. ESPNEWS, the 24-hour sports news network, will continue to present 30-minute news and highlights blocks the rest of the day, outside of the SportsCenter windows. The new ESPNEWS editions will supplement SportsCenter on ESPN, which airs live on weekdays generally from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and at 6 p.m., 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. (reaired 2-9 a.m.), and on weekends.
As part of the expansion, during SportsCenter on ESPNEWS, there will be an increased emphasis on integrated elements to and from ESPN.com, particularly in the 3-6 p.m. block. Examples will include television segments incorporating ESPN’s local.com sites (ESPNBoston.com, ESPNNewYork.com, ESPNLosAngeles.com, ESPNChicago.com and ESPNDallas.com); interactive polls; fan videos and photos; social media content from fans and athletes; and viewer Q&As with ESPN commentators. Potential SportsCenter-branded videos produced for ESPN.com each day may include extended interviews, the most memorable video of the day, most talked about stories and best highlights and star performances.
“SportsCenter is our flagship franchise and we’re always looking for new and effective ways to strengthen it,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production. “These steps will increase the show’s live TV presence, connect with sports fans in the digital space and provide dynamic new sales opportunities. We’re showcasing SportsCenter within primetime television hours and during an active time for online traffic.”
Cindy Brunson and Robert Flores will generally co-host the 3-6 p.m. SportsCenter block. The anchor team from ESPN’s 6 p.m. show will also work the 7-8 p.m. hour on ESPNEWS, while the 8-11 p.m. SportsCenter window on ESPNEWS will primarily be co-hosted by Linda Cohn and Kevin Negandhi.
The new format of SportsCenter on ESPNEWS will provide more flexibility to create new advertising elements, which may include integrated packages with SportsCenter on ESPN.com and sponsor-able, commercial-free hours within the new programming blocks.
WEEKDAY SPORTSCENTER SCHEDULE (as of Monday, Aug. 30; all times ET; schedule subject to change)
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ESPN
3-6 pm. ESPNEWS
6-7 p.m. ESPN
7-11 p.m. ESPNEWS
11 p.m.-midnight ESPN
1-2 a.m. ESPN
2-9 a.m. ESPN or ESPN2 (reairs)
SportsCenter revolutionized the way television sports news is covered. Debuting on September 7, 1979, ESPN’s first program was primarily a highlights-driven show until the mid-1980s when it evolved as a journalistic enterprise as the company committed resources to grow its newsgathering operation. SportsCenter became the first program in television history to celebrate its 30,000th live edition Sunday, Feb.11, 2007. The program combines highlights, news, features and analysis delivered in a creative, innovative and timely manner by a lineup of respected anchors, reporters and analysts. In August 2008, the show expanded to include live weekday SportsCenters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. SportsCenter’s success led to the launch of ESPNEWS and the creation of sport-specific shows such as Baseball Tonight, College GameDay, Sunday NFL Countdown and more. The show has been recognized with numerous awards over the years, including several Sports Emmys.
ESPNEWS, the only 24-hour sports news television network in America, provides viewers with greater depth and perspective as well as continuous up-to-the-minute scores, highlights, analysis, statistics, breaking news and press conferences. The network was launched November 1, 1996, in 1.5 million homes. It currently is seen in more than 73 million homes. In the past, ESPNEWS has offered live SportsCenter episodes when live events were on ESPN (and/or ESPN2).
Whether you like this move or not, it gives SportsCenter additional resources and it can also help to fill time on the Mothership or ESPN2 when an event is in delay.