With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day coinciding with April Fools’ Day, ESPN’s First Take seized on the convergence to create an opportunity to convey the show’s bond with its fans.
“We’re based in a very quiet studio five days a week, so it was a pleasure to get out and meet some of our most faithful fans,” said First Take’s Skip Bayless. “It’s debatable who had more fun, those fans or Stephen A and I. I’d argue we did.”
On March 11, this tweet went out from @ESPN_FirstTake:
— ESPN First Take (@ESPN_FirstTake) March 11, 2013
The result was a throng of hundreds of Fisrt Take aspirants wanting to embrace debate in a booth in New York City’s Times Square – at ABC’s studios – to audition for the show. Believing they were competing for a chance to appear on TV, at the desk with Skip, Stephen A. Smith and Cari Champion, fans delivered their best and most passionate personal messages from a slick pop-up FT studio.
“We wanted to give Stephen A. and Skip a chance to meet the fans of the show in person,” said Vice President of Original Programming Jamie Horowitz. “I think the video illustrates what we hear from the fans: those who love First Take, love it with passion.”
The video will be featured Monday on First Take’s live show (10 a.m. ET, ESPN2) from New York’s Hard Rock Café to help celebrate MLB’s Opening Day.
Utilizing both the First Take Show Unit and the Original Programming and Production Department, Horowitz oversaw the coordinated effort that involved interviewing potential participants who were in line and maintaining the secrecy of the event, which included sneaking Skip and Stephen A. into the studio.
“Which,” Horowitz said, “was no small task in midtown Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon.”
Coverage of Opening Day starts at 1 p.m. on ESPN with the Boston Red Sox visiting the New York Yankees to begin the network’s quadruple header. Mike & Mike kicked off the day by doing their show from MLB’s Fan Cave.
And now, the Weekend Tweetback: