Forward/Rewind: SportsCenter

ESPN_RW_FF LOGOEDITOR’S NOTE: With this multi-week series — the Front Row Forward/Rewind, 2016/2015 — ESPN’s Communications Department takes the pulse of content executives throughout ESPN for their views on what’s ahead across ESPN for 2016 and some of what transpired in 2015. The snapshots provide a look at where ESPN has been, where it’s going and how it plans on getting there.


Michael Shiffman
Michael Shiffman
ESPN’s flagship news and information program SportsCenter had a year of innovation and accomplishment in 2015, including the launch of the new midnight edition hosted by Scott Van Pelt, a full year of SportsCenter on the Road that saw some 80 full shows done out of studio and more. Senior coordinating producer Michael Shiffman looks back at 2015 and ahead to 2016:

What was the best example of your division’s teamwork in 2015?
Our week of coverage up to and including the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was unprecedented in its scope. We had five different set locations in Las Vegas. Oftentimes, when we do these shows on the road we work in tandem with one of the other units such as college football or NBA. But this was all driven, owned and produced by SportsCenter. Hundreds of people across every department. It was eight full days of coverage, multiple full shows, multiple reporters, and without teamwork, there’s no way we could have accomplished it. I don’t know that we’ll have another event as complicated as that we’ll do in the future when it’s just us.

What was the most “social” moment of 2015?
Going back to 2014, I remember being struck by [former SportsCenter anchor] Stuart Scott’s ESPYS’ speech and how that resonated socially, and then last year, Jan. 4, his death, and then folks like President Obama and LeBron James making comments, that was a celebration of his life and what he meant to all of us. Six of our 30 most-liked posts on Facebook were about Stuart, same for Instagram, including the No. 2 post overall. Seeing socially the impact he had outside of the building for me was both telling and spoke to his meaning, and then the metrics back that up in terms of what people were sharing in and around his passing.

What are you most excited about for 2016?
The launch of the new 7 a.m. SportsCenter [coming in February]. The challenge and opportunity of it. The challenge of what should that 7 a.m. show be and how it evolves both in terms of the content and the conversation of the morning routine. How do we really analyze what the morning routine for our fans means to how we produce it? That’s an exciting challenge that is somewhat new to us, and with it coming on two hours early, 7 a.m. needs to look much different than 8 a.m., and much different than 9 a.m. and so on.

I’m also most excited by our “On the Road” initiative. Now that we have the learnings in terms of planning and content from having gone through a full year of it, we have the opportunity to make it even better, hopefully bring us even closer to fans and generate more memorable content just because we’ve learned so much from this past year

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