Behind The Scenes

ESPN hits Broadway to woo advertisers in 2015 Upfront; Mike & Mike talk about NYC move

ESPN Upfront 2015

ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike will be moving to New York City in 2016 [see sidebar below]. Scott Van Pelt signed an extension with ESPN and will take over the midnight (ET) SportsCenter as a solo anchor. For more details on these and other announcements from the event, visit ESPN MediaZone and the 2015 Upfront Media Kit.

NEW YORK – This morning in Broadway’s Minskoff Theater, ESPN is hosting its 2015 Upfront, where an impressive lineup of ESPN executives and talent, mascots and surprise guests will showcase the network’s marquee programming to an audience of 1,300 guests.

This year’s show will be titled “The ESPN Impression,” a culmination of the company’s messaging about the extensive value and scale it provides to advertisers. Attendees will see ESPN’s vision of where the marketplace is going and what it has to offer to better serve sports fans and brands.

“Our goal is to give our attendees an ‘authentic ESPN experience’ during the hour that they share with us,” said Senior Director of Sales Communications, ESPN, Dan Hadel, who has overseen the production of the show for the past nine years.

Front Row spoke with Hadel about his experience being a part of the event and some of the highlights of this year’s presentation:

Which Upfront presentation would you say was your favorite?
In 2007, we put ourselves in a leadership position by moving our presentation to the “Broadway stage.” We also moved our timing to when the biggest [Upfront] presentations occur – the second week of May, which was traditionally reserved for the broadcast networks. We’ve always been a hot ticket since then and every year we’ve raised the bar.

What is the process to develop the show and what are the biggest challenges?
The process starts in December, with production meetings to determine the overall show approach, its thematic and tone. Crunch time hits in mid-March, as we get heavily immersed in writing, talent decisions, and production.

The ESPN UpFront 2013 team (L-R): Cindy Freed, Patricia Betron, Dan Hadel, Ed Erhardt, Sean Hanrahan, Ashley Robbins, Jessica Stegman and Eric Johnson. (Photo courtesy Dan Hadel)
The ESPN UpFront 2013 team (L-R): Cindy Freed, Patricia Betron, Dan Hadel, Ed Erhardt, Sean Hanrahan, Ashley Robbins, Jessica Stegman and Eric Johnson.
(Photo courtesy Dan Hadel)

The biggest challenge is keeping track of all the tiny details that can have a big impact if forgotten. That said, we’ve got a fantastic team that makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. We look forward to this collaboration every year as it taps into the deep knowledge and creativity of all these teams. It makes the process both an exciting and rewarding.

SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne has always been a comical part of the show throughout the years. How did the idea for this year’s video (see above) come about?
Kenny has been with us for eight years — he’s almost like a part of the core [Upfront] team. Kenny is fantastic to work with from both a personality and creative standpoint. Once we give him a theme, he comes to the table with tons of ideas. This year his conceit was poking fun at all the buzz around Big Data. He wanted to take this often confusing and complex topic and see what kids would make of it. The shoot was great fun and he fit right in with the kids.

<center><strong>Start spreading the news: <em>Mike & Mike</em> head to New York</strong></center>
Comedian Seth Meyers (L) on the set of Mike & Mike with co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic during Super Bowl week 2014 in New York City. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Mike & Mike will be moving to New York City in 2016. The show has aired from New York many times before, including this show during Super Bowl Week in 2014 with guest Seth Meyers (l).
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio’s highly successful morning show for the past 15 years, is moving to the Big Apple. Hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will begin broadcasting from ABC’s Times Square studio at 6 a.m. ET on Feb. 8, 2016, the day after Super Bowl XL. Front Row caught up with the Mike to ask about the changes.

What will be your favorite part about the NYC move?
: It’s a nice second act for the show.
Greenberg: I am from New York so I will now be closer to my family.

Are you looking forward to having NYC as a backdrop, similar to the 2014 Super Bowl?
: Yes, New York has great energy and will give off a fun vibe.
Greenberg: Yes, there’s great energy in that city!

Will your commute change?
It may. I haven’t decided yet.

Are you moving closer to NY?
Golic, who currently lives in central Connecticut:
Yes, I am going to move about 10 minutes outside the city. I think it is a good idea to move.

Olbermann and Around The Horn will be sharing the same studio space with your show. What’s that going to be like?
: I shared a studio with [First Take commentators] Skip [Bayless] and Stephen A. [Smith], what’s the difference?

What will you miss about Bristol?
: I’ve worked in Bristol for almost 20 years. It’s been a big part of my life. It will be a very different dynamic not working there anymore.

ABC’s Good Morning America’s studio is downstairs from your NYC set. What will be the best part about working closely with that team?
Golic: I can bum-rush their set any time I want.
Greenberg: Getting to hang out more with [former SportsCenter anchor and current GMA co-host] Robin Roberts, one of my favorite people. I’ve admired her since before I started working at ESPN.

– Diane Lamb

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