The latest ESPN women’s basketball initiative, “Need to Know” will be prominently featured throughout the network’s schedule of games and help to promote the top players in the women’s game and will include extended coverage on espnW.com.
The five players on the initial list are: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Connecticut); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford); Odyssey Sims (Baylor); Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland). The original five will stay on the list through the duration of the season, while additional players have the opportunity to play their way onto it.
Front Row spoke with Tina Thornton, ESPN senior coordinating producer about the differences from last year, and what to expect this season.
Talk about the creation of the “Need to Know” franchise?
One of our goals each year is to connect our fans to the best stories in the women’s game. Our “Need to Know” franchise allows us to focus our efforts on a few star athletes – the elite players every fan should watch and follow. We’ll build momentum during the regular season through video, stats, analysis and storytelling. Our focus will continue through the Final Four, where we hope to see one, if not more of our “Need to Know” players in action.
Can you explain the difference between last year’s “3 to See” and this year’s “Need to Know?”
Last year was a special year, with three elite seniors – Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins – to highlight. This year, we wanted to expand that brand beyond the senior class and create a franchise we could use for years to come. It also allows ESPN the flexibility to focus our fans on the best in the game each year, without the limitations of a specific number to start.
Why is this important to the women’s game and ESPN?
Building stars is important to any sports coverage. The initiative gives women’s basketball an additional vehicle for storytelling and visibility to attract more potential fans to the game.
How were the original five players selected for the list?
There were 10-12 candidates that were highly considered. After polling the ESPN women’s basketball talent as well as a number of experts in the industry, an internal committee made up of programming, production and editorial staff settled on the initial five players. While there are still other great players that will be talked about, this exclusive list allows us to focus our storytelling.
What should fans expect to see in our coverage?
Every women’s game will include either a graphic or video analysis of one or more of the players on our “Need to Know” list. espnW will provide complimentary in-depth coverage of each player, allowing fans to engage in conversation and debate surrounding who should or should not be included on the list. Don’t be surprised if you also see the “Need to Know” franchise show up within highlights on SportsCenter as well.