ESPN To Debut New Digital Center For Sunday Night's "SportsCenter" Broadcast
ESPN during Sunday night's "SportsCenter" is set to introduce “another massive, state-of-the-art digital center” the net has nicknamed DC-2, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. ESPN President John Skipper during a media tour last month called it "the most technologically advanced studio facility in the United States.” ESPN's new digital center will feature an “array of modern technical marvels,” but the “biggest change most viewers will notice in the approach to its venerable ‘SportsCenter’ franchise involves people, not machinery.” The idea is to use the “new set full of video screens to get anchors up from their chairs and moving about -- and to allow them and their personalities to be a bigger part of the show, a throwback in its history.” Skipper said, “Our goal here in this facility is to be able to inject a little more personality back into it." ESPN Senior VP/SportsCenter & News Rob King said, “We want a real connection with the audience. That's why we work so hard to find on-air talent, to find people we really believe do sports in a really exciting way and really communicate that.” Best notes ESPN could face a risk by "using technology just because you can,” similar to when CNN “infamously unveiled a holographic gimmick” during its ‘08 presidential election coverage. But ESPN VP & Dir of News Craig Bengtson said he told studio designers, "I don't want to buy anything that we think is just going to be used as a gimmick. Let's purchase technology and equipment we think is going to help us deliver content in a better way. If it's not, we don't need it" (NEWSDAY, 6/17).
PRESIDENTAL TREATMENT: In DC, Dan Steinberg reported a 30-second ESPN "SportsCenter" ad starring the Nationals' racing Teddy Roosevelt mascot is slated to debut this week. The spot, titled "Universal Remote," features ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi showing the "fancy new 'SportsCenter' studio to colleague Hannah Storm." But his "universal remote is wonky, and that allows three lucky ducks -- Jay Crawford, Jay Harris and a giant-headed rendition of our 26th president -- to prosper" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/16).