NEW YORK – In its first election cycle under the auspices of ESPN, FiveThirtyEight is adding a major multimedia element to its coverage – a new studio. Formerly a nondescript conference room (see photos above) adjacent to the FiveThirtyEight offices, the studio will give FiveThirtyEight the ability to increase its audio and video output – including contributing to ABC News’ election night coverage – something that has been a goal of the site since its move to ESPN.
“[Founder of FiveThirtyEight] Nate Silver wanted to expand storytelling on the site to different mediums,” said Dan Silver, senior director of Development, ESPN Films. “We knew after our first meeting that ESPN Films could help in developing highly produced narratives based off topics relevant to FiveThirtyEight. But, perhaps even more so, we realized we might need a whole other element to help with the daily storytelling, as well as the cross-company contributions being made by Nate and the staff at FiveThirtyEight.”
Grantland, which has some of the most popular podcasts across iTunes, was used as a model for what could be done at FiveThirtyEight. Dan Silver and his team began scouting a space that could house a multi-purpose, New York-based studio to serve several entities at ESPN, specifically those under the Exit 31 umbrella (Grantland, FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films).
A rarely used conference room down the hall from the FiveThirtyEight newsroom fit the bill. While primarily for FiveThirtyEight, the lighting and backgrounds were designed to be easily modified to cater to any number of shows or entities across ESPN. In addition to videos and podcasts, the studio is also linked to ESPN in Bristol and in Los Angeles so that FiveThirtyEight writers can make appearances across ESPN or link up with Grantland for a video or podcast segment.
“We have been practicing for election night for several weeks now,” Dan Silver said. “Once we get through tonight’s marathon, we’re really going to be able to have some fun figuring out just what we can do next.”
FiveThirtyEight’s extensive election coverage can be found here. Nate Silver and site contributor Harry Enten will be featured throughout ABC News’ coverage of the elections, hosted by George Stephanopoulos.