When ESPN launched on Sept. 7, 1979, many wondered how the studio location was chosen. During the first on-air appearance that night, original anchor Lee Leonard addressed it this way, “Why Bristol? Because here in Bristol is where all the sports action is as of right now.”
Though Leonard was clearly referring to ESPN’s mission to cover sports around the clock from its Connecticut hub, 41 years later his words have taken on a different meaning. A pandemic-influenced landscape in 2020 has brought several events to Bristol with ESPN serving as both the host site and the telecaster.
While this had happened on rare occasions prior to this year’s never-seen-before circumstances, tonight’s NBA Draft and the recently-announced Heisman Trophy Ceremony reflect a pattern of major events across different sports originating from ESPN.
ESPN Executive Vice President, Content Operations and Creative Services, Jodi Markley, noted: “With a central focus of keeping our people and our guests safe and healthy, the pandemic has challenged us to reimagine every aspect of how we create content. Our team has developed new, innovative workflows which enable us to produce large-scale shows using a combination of virtual technology, in-home cameras and a minimal on-site footprint in our Bristol studios. This type of innovation, flexibility, reliability and collaboration under changing circumstances is ESPN at its finest.”
Rich Arden, Kelly Backus, Allison Stoneberg, Katie Hughes, Joe Faraoni, Allen Kee and Teri Couch contributed to this post.