Behind The Scenes

What if. . . SportsCenter were a network unto itself?

(L-R) SportsCenter anchors Sage Steele, Jay Crawford, Hannah Storm and Kevin Negandhi on set. (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
(L-R) SportsCenter anchors Sage Steele, Jay Crawford, Hannah Storm and Kevin Negandhi on set.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

The question posed in the headline above is not such a far-flung concept. In fact, in 2012, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS combined to air almost 8,800 hours of SportsCenter (live shows and repeats). That’s slightly more than one year’s worth of programming for a network.

So how would this one show stand up as a network versus the competition? The answer: quite well.

Among Men ages 18-34, the imaginary “SportsCenter Network” would rank as the third most-popular 24-hour cable network.

With a 2012 average of 130,000 impressions in that key demographic group, SportsCenter trailed only Comedy Central (137,000) and clear industry-leader ESPN (244,000).

“This analysis demonstrates the significance and scale of SportsCenter as a standalone entity,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president, research and analytics. “It is the core of the ESPN brand and after so many years it still resonates with young men — a demographic that is among the most elusive and most valuable to advertisers.”

Bulgrin paints this strong connection ESPN has with young men – built over three decades and carefully fostered every day — as an important differential in the ever-expanding business landscape.

“The reach and engagement that ESPN has among Men 18-34 is our most significant point of difference and it all starts with SportsCenter,” he said. “And as we begin to face new competition from TV sports networks, SportsCenter remains the difference and foundation that no one else has.”

Craig Bengtson, vice president, SportsCenter, is proud of these statisitics and credits both the quality of the information the show imparts as well as its ubiquitous presence — on television and elsewhere — in the lives of sports fans.

SportsCenter is now a 24/7 television program that delivers news and information in the digital, mobile and social spaces as well,” he said.

“The volume and variety of quality content the show offers — from breaking news to the ‘Not Top 10’ video highlights, exclusive interviews and long-form story-telling — is unmatched in sports media. These numbers simply reflect the evolution and growing strength of the SportsCenter brand and its importance in the daily lives of fans.”

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