ESPN may have parted ways with the company that produced their famous series of “This is SportsCenter” commercials (Wieden & Kennedy, heading to Fox Sports) but that doesn’t mean they’re scaling back on original videos to support the SportsCenter brand.
With all the changes to SportsCenter and the new themed episodes like Scott Van Pelt’s late night edition and Michael Smith and Jemele Hill at 6 PM ET, keeping them consistently in front of fans on all platforms would be helpful.
With that in mind, SportsCenter is focusing a new effort on creating original digital video content featuring SportsCenter anchors behind the scenes in Bristol with athletes and celebrities or with what they’re working on for the telecast.
Here’s the news via Digiday:
Within ESPN’s 20-person digital video production team, the company has assigned a group to focus full time on creating original “SportsCenter” videos for digital platforms. These videos will live on ESPN.com and its refurbished mobile app — and when relevant, distributed across different “SportsCenter” social handles.
“This team will not only be thinking about what we’re doing on TV and taking the best of that to digital platforms, but also creating things specifically for digital, including franchises that enhance our on-air brands,” said Rob King, svp of “SportsCenter” and news for ESPN.
What the videos won’t be are standard desk-side bits that viewers can also see on TV, said ESPN. This could include everything from the “SportsCenter” hosts working on a story away from their desks; random behind-the-scenes sketches with athletes and celebrities visiting ESPN’s Bristol headquarters; or short features on a specific topic that might eventually air on the TV broadcast. So far, the team has created one-off segments such as a video of Magic Johnson doing behind-the-back passes to Michael Smith and Jemele Hill while the “SportsCenter” anchors prepare for their evening 6 p.m. show.
This is a smart move because if anything, television is seeing as much success on digital platforms than on the traditional medium. Just think about how many millions and millions of YouTube views John Oliver and Jimmy Fallon and SNL receive. While these won’t be Carpool Karaoke by any stretch, anything to help reach more sports fans and get them to feel at home with the new-look SportsCenter is a good idea.
Come to think of it, these almost sound like live versions of the “This is SportsCenter” commercials, right down to the athletes and celebrities in Bristol. If ESPN really wants the new SC6 to be a success, they should have Michael Smith and Jemele Hill remake classic “This is SportsCenter commercials.” We know they love making parody videos all the time, so what better way to win over long-time ESPN viewers than by channeling their inner Charley Steiner?