Steve Levy, who will co-anchor SportsCenter’s first show from its new Digital Center-2 studio Sunday, June 22 at 11 p.m. ET (or at the conclusion of Sunday Night Baseball), and ESPN’s Vice President, Director of News Craig Bengtson, discussed the debut of the new facility in a Thursday media conference call.
Levy and Bengtson both pinpointed two specific changes with SportsCenter’s programs and set.
The two changes are an increased set awareness with the new studio size, which is twice the size (nearly 10,000-sq feet) of the current one, and an increased digital and social media use within their programs.
Since SportsCenter’s new set is twice the size of the original set, this will create more movement and interaction by the hosts. This change will make it harder for SC’s hosts and guests to use note cards and information that they used to have by their side on the last set.
“I would say the biggest change for us is awareness of our surroundings,” Levy said, “we will almost never be behind the desk, we will be all over the place and we won’t have the luxury of having a safety net (with cards and notes). The show will be a lot looser.”
Not only will the set change affect the hosts’ awareness but, it will also affect SC’s programs and how they are presented to viewers. Each program will differ based on where they are on set and there will be more interaction with technology and social media for the television hosts.
“Because the studio is built for a 24/7 program, the programs will differ based on where they start on the set,” Bengtson said. “The lighting in the morning is different than at night…(we want to) make it easier for people to digest information.”
Viewers will be able to consume SportsCenter programs and news even more with the increased presence of SportsCenter’s app and digital media space, which will now be a larger part of the show.
“In our new control room, there is now a seat for a Social Media Producer, which is something we didn’t have with DC-1,”Bengtson said, “We try to adjust to everything that is happening in the new market, Twitter will be an important part of the show (and) social media and the sports media app will be a part of the show on a daily basis.”
The new social media newsroom will allow those who create the digital and social media content to have media access not only for their analysts but also talent and guests. All of the new content and material will be found on SportsCenter’s social and digital space, including on espn.com.
In addition to the social and digital media change, the set will have the SportsCenter app on the touch screens, allowing for the hosts to highlight key content for the viewers to focus in on, decreasing distractions that could occur because of the large amount of information.
“We are beginning to use sports center app, initially in the touch screen so we can use it just like you would with your phone,” Bengtson said, “it’s not a gimmick…an option for us to look at content that we normally won’t get on the show…We understand the importance of social media and try to use the set and environment to connect better (with it).”
Levy finds the increased social media presence great, especially since it assists with notifications on mistakes that could instantly be corrected.
“Twitter catches mistakes and our audience is so smart and into our show that they bail us out a couple of times a night.” Levy said, “Can you imagine how many highlights we do? We are human like everyone, we make mistakes and a quick check on our (personal) Twitter feeds and see how they point out these mistakes, it helps!”
Viewers will soon enough be able to witness, critic and evaluate the brand new set on Sunday, June 22, 11 p.m. ET.