ESPN’s NFL coverage will have a completely new look this season thanks to a state-of-the-art 9,000-square-foot NFL studio that will debut with the three-hour kickoff edition of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown pregame this weekend (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET) – coincidentally 35 years to the day of ESPN’s original network launch.
Studio W (photos above) in Digital Center 2 will be the largest studio on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus. In addition to Sunday NFL Countdown, it will be the new home for all other ESPN NFL programs – NFL Insiders, NFL Live, NFL PrimeTime and Monday Night Countdown, etc. – beginning Monday.
The studio offers six different mini-set possibilities, plus additional standup areas, and will give every show its own distinct look and feel. Previously, all of ESPN’s NFL shows shared Studio E in Digital Center 1, along with other non-NFL programs.
“It’s fitting that we are debuting the new NFL set on September 7, because that marks 35 years to the day that we opened for business,” said Chris Berman, the longtime host of both Countdown shows.
Berman has affectionately dubbed the old studio “Candlestick Park” after the San Francisco 49ers’ longtime home, which was retired this year in favor of the new Levi’s Stadium.
He adds: “The new set will be totally up to date and it’s got bells and whistles. It will accent the content we have on Countdown. We hope it feels comfortable and important and it draws people in.”
For more on the new NFL studios, USA Today‘s “For the Win” offers a first-look. For a fun look back at ESPN’s NFL studios and commentators through the years, see the gallery below.
Editor’s Note: ESPN will have extensive coverage throughout the day of tonight’s NFL Kickoff when the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers.
Laurel Daggett contributed to this post