Michael and Jemele stand on the set of the soon-to-launch SC6. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

ESPN’s Senior Vice President of SportsCenter and News Rob King shares some insight with Front Row about the upcoming SC6 with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill debuting Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. ET.

(Rich Arden / ESPN Images)
Rob King (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

What will distinguish SC6 from other SportsCenters?
It starts with Michael and Jemele and their unique relationship. It’s also going to be distinguished by their journalistic backgrounds that not enough people know much about and by the circle of friends, admirers and followers that they’ve accumulated in the sports world and in the popular culture world.

Some SportsCenters are distinguished by the way in which anchors talk directly to the audience, giving them information and entertainment. This show will be unique because it is an opportunity to look in on a conversation among close friends, colleagues and the people who they bring into their orbit by virtue of the topics they choose and the interests they have. Since we launched the midnight show with Scott Van Pelt, it’s been really clear that SportsCenter can be distinguished when it’s built around unique personalities and unique conceits, especially those ideas, personalities and conceits that work for specific audiences. The success of Scott at midnight has emboldened us to think about, “How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?” which is what we built SportsCenter:AM around. It definitely makes us think about that happy-hour time of day where the conversation around sports is really a conversation more than a moment to report something.

There’s a show meeting at noon and from that show meeting up until the show starts at six o’clock on television, we’ll be using social platforms and digital platforms to give people glimpses into how we’re building ideas and to introduce unique content to certain social platforms to listen to fans who are on those social platforms and the topics they’re interested in. – ESPN Sr. VP, SC and News, Rob King, on SC6

But I should also say that Michael and Jemele are extremely capable of reporting news as it breaks and as it happens so we have high-level confidence there. I think people will also see that the music, the set design, the guest list and the way in which people sit on the set will all communicate a very different vibe around SportsCenter and it should be really cool.

What are the ways fans can consume this SportsCenter?
The cool thing about this show is that we’ve actually started from scratch in terms of thinking of all the ways in which fans can touch “The Six.” There’s a show meeting at noon and from that show meeting up until the show starts at six o’clock on television, we’ll be using social platforms and digital platforms to give people glimpses into how we’re building ideas and to introduce unique content to certain social platforms to listen to fans who are on those social platforms and the topics they’re interested in. So by the time we get into the control room and start doing a show we will have already started a conversation with the audience that will continue through the live games.

Michael and Jemele combined have more than 900,000 followers on social platforms so you match that up with the breadth of SportsCenter’s audience across Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and you’re talking about a huge scale on which Michael and Jemele, their audiences, and sports fans, in general, can talk to each other. – Rob King

Michael and Jemele combined have more than 900,000 followers on social platforms so you match that up with the breadth of SportsCenter’s audience across Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and you’re talking about a huge scale on which Michael and Jemele, their audiences, and sports fans, in general, can talk to each other.

In many ways, we view what’s going to happen in the social and digital space is as important as what happens from 6 p.m.-6:59 p.m. on television. In the end, that will be a watershed moment. In the past, we’ve embraced social and digital but we’ve built them largely as appendages; in this case, they live at the center of how we think of touching fans.

One year from now, what would you consider a success for this edition of SportsCenter?
First, there should be a hell of an anniversary party that based on how things are looking already, we should have a pretty good guest list for. Secondly, I hope it informs and emboldens us to take even bigger bets on other parts of the daytime or the nighttime or the weekends. Because between Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter:AM and now SC6 with Michael and Jemele, we are only getting going in really understanding how we can match up SportsCenter to the interests and needs of our audience across all platforms and all day times.

We just celebrated an anniversary around Scott’s show and Feb. 8 we’ll have the anniversary around the daytime lineup. That gives us a chance to look back at all the really cool things we did that we would never have done if we hadn’t made these decisions and taken these creative leaps. So a year from now, I look forward to the typical metrics of success: better ratings; a larger available audience; larger average-minute-audience; a list of engaged and happy advertising clients who join us to identify new ad formats and interesting ways to reach the marketplace; a very happy, engaged, encouraged, enthusiastic Michael and Jemele looking forward to what other mayhem they can create a year out and a general feeling around SportsCenter that we continue to innovate.

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