On Monday morning, ESPN announced not only dramatic changes to its SportsCenter lineup but also a new mode of delivery to its flagship program.
Beginning this summer, ESPN will take huge steps to expand SportsCenter’s digital presence. Quick SportsCenter Right Now updates will air twice an hour on ESPN.com and on the home screen of the ESPN app. Those segments will also appear on ESPN television programming, beginning during First Take on August 28.
Here’s how ESPN executive Rob King described the changes in a news release.
“SportsCenter seeks to serve sports fans with singular talent, exceptional news coverage and unprecedented accessibility. 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.”
The idea here is to get back to the days when the SportsCenter brand delivered viewers news they hadn’t previously heard. It used to be that fans would catch up on the day in sports by watching SportsCenter, but with news now available at all times on numerous platforms, ESPN can no longer wait for viewers to come to them. Interjecting news updates online, on mobile and on TV allows SportsCenter to bring news to people wherever they are.
It seems that while the SportsCenter itself will have less news (and more analysis, opinion, debate) than ever, SportsCenter-branded hits will be a significant news mechanism for ESPN.
Though the principle makes sense, this plan certainly doesn’t seem foolproof. People watching a sports debate show might not want an interruption for news they already know. And fans on ESPN.com or the ESPN app already have the news of the day in front of them—why do they need it in video form? It’s possible that SportsCenter’s days as a deliverer of news are gone and not coming back.
Like all news outlets, ESPN is fighting to keep up with the times. And offering more options for news consumption across multiple platforms seems like a reasonable start.