Behind The ScenesESPNSportsCenter

ABC News President James Goldston values collaborating with ESPN

When “Good Morning America’s” co-anchor Robin Roberts landed an exclusive interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell prior to Super Bowl 50, the resulting content appeared on both ABC News and ESPN platforms.

This marks just another example of the increased collaboration of the ABC and ESPN news divisions. More and more, The Walt Disney Company sister networks share resources and personnel to produce compelling and informative storytelling.

Examples include:

  • ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts profiled University of Georgia running back Nick Chubb in the latest SC Featured, Sunday, Feb. 21 on SportsCenter. He visited ESPN recently to discuss the project.
  • “ABC World News Tonight’s” David Muir anchored from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., site of ESPN’s production of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
  • ABC News and ESPN shared information on aspects of the investigation of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez.
  • ABC News and ESPN personalities contribute to the “other” network; Roberts, a former SportsCenter anchor, appears on ESPN’s airwaves for special projects; Bob Woodruff, an ABC News anchor and reporter, works with ESPN’s newsmagazine E:60; ESPN’s Jesse Palmer is a special contributor on “GMA” and frequently appears weekday mornings; various ESPN commentators provide their perspectives and analysis on ABC News stories.
We have a long and distinguished history with the ESPN team, but in many ways our partnership has never been stronger. – James Goldston,
ABC News President

Recently, James Goldston, President of ABC News, visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus to speak to employees. He tells Front Row about the ABC News and ESPN partnership past, present and future, his thoughts on ESPN programming and more.

What are your favorite crossover efforts with ESPN? What are the benefits for viewers and for the Disney divisions?
We have a long and distinguished history with the ESPN team, but in many ways our partnership has never been stronger. We’re very proud of the big events we’ve covered alongside [ESPN] – anchoring “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight” from the National Championship Game, the World Cup in 2015 and the Sochi Olympics.

Working with ESPN means unparalleled access and tremendous expertise. It’s invaluable to draw on the unmatched lineup of experts when a big story breaks – from Chris Fowler, Sage Steele, Stephen A. Smith and Hannah Storm to Kirk Herbstreit, Lindsay Czarniak, Nate Silver, LZ Granderson and Chris Connelly. Their depth of knowledge is simply unmatched and essential to help our audience better understand the world.

One of our most recent ABC News-ESPN crossovers is the terrifically talented Dan Silver. He was a big part of the 30 for 30 team. Now he oversees the ABC News digital editorial team as we create new forms of storytelling that enhance our world-class journalism and connect with even greater audiences. And of course, we will forever be grateful to ESPN for the wonder that is Robin Roberts.

What other ABC News/ESPN crossover efforts are in store for viewers?
Watching [“GMA” co-anchor] Lara Spencer and Hannah Storm cover the excitement at Wimbledon is becoming one of my favorite summer traditions.

Some of the biggest stories in recent years – the Boston Marathon bombings, Aaron Hernandez, Caitlyn Jenner – have been sports stories that have become part of a much larger conversation in this country on national security, race and justice and transgender rights. The resources of ABC News and ESPN are a powerful combination that bring out the best in both organizations on these critically important stories. – Goldston

How helpful is ABC News and ESPN’s working relationship to covering big stories?
Just a few years ago, our news teams were only occasional collaborators. Now our teams talk frequently, to plan ahead and to share updates on breaking news. Some of the biggest stories in recent years – the Boston Marathon bombings, Aaron Hernandez, Caitlyn Jenner – have been sports stories that have become part of a much larger conversation in this country on national security, race and justice and transgender rights. The resources of ABC News and ESPN are a powerful combination that bring out the best in both organizations on these critically important stories.

As a lifelong Chelsea fan, what are your thoughts about ESPN’s soccer coverage?
ESPN’s soccer coverage is second to none. It’s gotten even better with the addition of expert analysts like Steve McManaman, Ian Darke, Taylor Twellman and Adrian Healey, who are deeply rooted in the sport. If one of them could tell me how Chelsea could be Premier League champions last season and useless this year, that would be most welcome.

How big a role will FiveThirtyEight have in ABC News’ election coverage?
We’re incredibly fortunate to have the greatest minds in electoral politics and statistics in the mix. Nate Silver and his superb team really enhance our coverage, and you’ll see them often from now right through the primaries, conventions and Election Day.

How often do you get a chance to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30s? Which is your favorite and why? If you were to produce a sports film for ESPN, what story would you want to tell and why?
My 30 for 30 locker full of the DVDs is a place of pride in my office. I have seen the whole bunch. My favorite has to be “The Two Escobars” – Pablo and Andres and the unbelievable story of the rise of “narco-soccer.’”

It would be such a treat to make one one day. My mind is now racing with ideas, but it would definitely be a wild soccer or tennis yarn.

Back to top button
Close