The Big Thing: SportsCenter

2016 was a big year for His & Hers co-hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill and 2017 looks to be even bigger with their debut as the hosts of the 6 p.m. ET hour of SportsCenter on Monday, Feb. 6. The duo’s chemistry and willingness to push boundaries will follow them to their new home on ESPN as they aim to create one of the most unique editions of SportsCenter to date.

“The creativity and energy displayed by the team working on the new edition of SportsCenter has been breathtaking, and Michael and Jemele have already gone above and beyond to infuse their special camaraderie and ingenuity into the process,” said ESPN Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News Rob King. “I can safely speak for all involved in the show when I say we can’t wait to get started.”
Kimberly Elchlepp produced the video below

More Big Things

X Games

The World of X Games

In its third year, the World of X Games content series continued to offer a broader year-round platform for the X Games and its athletes, with regularly scheduled programming on ABC each weekend. The shows allow fans to follow deeper stories about the personalities that are so important and relevant to the action sports industry and more importantly, bring additional X Games content to fans throughout the year.



When espnW released its annual IMPACT25 list highlighting the people who made the biggest difference for women in sports, it did so with heartfelt, personal essays from athletes, luminaries and family members – including Prince Harry! – that celebrated each of the honorees. espnW Deputy Editor Jenn Holmes gave a sneak-peek at the process involved.

“Over a series of brainstorms, we went through each honoree and asked who might have some interesting insight on their accomplishments this year. And the names at the top of our lists usually had some personal connection or experience with them. If not, it was important that they share how the honoree had influenced them personally. So, that’s how we ended up with Prince Harry writing about Sgt. Elizabeth Marks and their acquaintance through the Invictus Games, as well as a 15-year-old fan talking about how Jessie Graff is removing boundaries for women.”


US Open 2016

No other initiative from the ESPN Tennis team in 2016 received as much attention in social media as the use of Phil Collins in the US Open bumps and teases, including filming with the Hall of Famer at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The highlight was Collins’ performance – his first live appearance in six years – on Opening Night for the unveiling of the new retractable roof atop Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Back in August, Front Row explained how it all came together: The idea was born with ESPN Vice President, Production Jamie Reynolds. “In our planning, we realized the perfect harmony of weaving the USTA’s marketing campaign – using words that have “In” such as Incredible, Indescribable and Inspiring, to emphasize matches could be indoors, thanks to the new retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium – and Collins’ iconic ‘In the Air Tonight.’”


Amy Rosenfeld, Senior Coordinating Producer

After 18 months of work to secure ESPN’s host set location for UEFA EURO 2016, we took possession of the site on the banks of the Seine – a river that snakes through Paris – on May 27.

The build was going really well. In fact, ahead of schedule. . . until Memorial Day on May 30 when we heard that due to persistent rain, the Seine was rising, and rising and still rising.

When our senior production team left for Paris on June 1, we knew we would not open the tournament on June 10 from this position. We immediately found and built a functional alternate host set to start the tournament, and worked very hard cleaning up and rebuilding our flooded compound and host set.

If ever there was an example of how important a great team – who trust each other, are friends first, colleagues second – this was it.

When we finally debuted our original host set on the Seine on June 14 – a labor protest sparked a riot replete with tear gas that forced our team to evacuate and deploy a makeshift Bristol operation to host the remainder of the day.

Once again, everyone on the crew smiled, shrugged it off, and prepared to present the next day’s matches.

I am very proud of the production of UEFA Euro 2016. More importantly, I am most proud of our people and our team.


SC Featured

Exploring More Projects After Success of Pin Kings

In August, ESPN launched one of its most ambitious storytelling initiatives ever with the multiplatform presentation of Pin Kings, the true story of two high school wrestling teammates and how their lives intersected into adulthood through drug trafficking, law enforcement and, ultimately, sports. The SC Featured project included television, print, digital and audio content all telling the same story but in formats that fit the specific audiences of each platform.

“Much of what we do is cross-platform, but Pin Kings was the most ambitious because it also included 18 podcasts and that was brand new for us,” said ESPN Vice President, SportsCenter & News, Storytelling Units Craig Lazarus.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the podcasts,” he said. “We met (ESPN) Audio’s goals for number of downloads, Audio Sales was able to get it sponsored, and creatively, it gave us another outlet to provide information and storytelling to fans.”

Lazarus looks forward to more projects in 2017.

“The podcast idea was successful and working with our Audio colleagues we want to try to do more,” he said. “We can’t do it for every SC Featured but we are looking to do a few in 2017.

“We anticipate our first 2017 SC Featured podcast to begin sometime in February,” he said.

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