Behind The ScenesESPN

Excellence illustrated: Inside ESPN’s Sports Emmy graphic design wins

At the Sports Emmys ceremony in New York City on May 9, ESPN’s Creative and Studio Direction team swept the graphic design categories.

ESPN won for Outstanding Live Graphic Design and Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design.

Both of the winning teams had several members who had never won an Emmy before, so to see their work recognized in such a big way was an awesome experience to share as a team.
– Michael (Sp!ke) Szykowny on ESPN’s Sports Emmy wins for graphics

These victories mark the first time a single network has won both honors in the same year since the Academy split the graphic design competition into separate categories in 2013. The victories also make a total of five Emmy wins for ESPN’s graphic design work in just the last four years. The group also had two nominations — among ESPN’s industry-leading 50 — in Outstanding Studio Design/Art Direction for Mike & Mike and UEFA Euro 2016.

“The most exciting part of this event is being able to share the occasion with everyone that is winning for the first time,” said Michael (Sp!ke) Szykowny, senior director of Motion Graphics. “Both of the winning teams had several members who had never won an Emmy before, so to see their work recognized in such a big way was an awesome experience to share as a team.”

In the Outstanding Live Graphic Design category, the World Cup of Hockey animation package beat out ESPN’s UEFA Euro 2016 package, NBC’s work on the Olympics, and Fox and CBS’ work on the NFL.

To appeal to a new generation of hockey fans, the design team created a package described as a “contemporary mixture of energy, sport, and art, meant to reflect a game that can change within the blink of an eye.” An all in-house team of eight designers worked for more than six months to bring this concept to life from scratch.

“This is a groundbreaking package created by a dedicated team of designers who not only love what they do but love the sport of hockey,” said Vice President of Creative and Studio Direction, Bob Toms. “It was truly a labor of love for all those involved, and I am immensely proud of what they were able to accomplish in what was a truly competitive field of entries.”

In the Outstanding Post-Produced Graphics category, MNF beat Netflix, MLB Network, CBS and the NFL Network to win this category for the third year in a row. Again, an all in-house team created weekly animated graphics that enhanced the viewing experience and highlighted key game storylines for football fans.

This team of 13 designers sought to build a look that was sophisticated yet fun, edgy and dynamic. The turnaround for these packages was much tighter with initial concepts being discussed each Thursday and final products being delivered to the truck by 3 p.m. the next Monday.

“Creating these graphics on a weekly basis is both grueling and rewarding,” said Szykowny. “Grueling because you have to be great immediately, and rewarding because you see your work along with millions of viewers just a few days later. To do that for 17 straight weeks is an incredible accomplishment for the entire design team!”

Editor’s Note: In all, ESPN took home six awards from last week’s Sports Emmys. Other honors include: Outstanding Studio Show, Weekly: College GameDay; Outstanding Studio Show, Daily: Pardon the Interruption; Outstanding Long Feature: E:60’s “Life as Matt”; Outstanding Music Direction: ESPN Deportes’ Los Capitanes.

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