It is with much confusion that I read the news release from ESPN promoting the expansion of SportsCenter. According to the announcement, SportsCenter will begin airing live each weekday morning beginning at 9:00am ET. The show will feature three sets of anchors and remain live until 3:00pm. The main anchor will be former CNN, NBC, and CBS personality Hannah Storm.
The announcement itself is not revolutionary. SportsCenter is the network’s signature product and it’s expansion to being live every morning makes sense. It should do very well within the male demographic looking for fresh sports news content each morning.
What doesn’t make sense is the apparent duplication of services across the ESPN family of networks. In making the announcement ESPN indicated it had no plans to scratch ESPN First Take, a sports morning show that airs on ESPN2 right after the telecast of the Mike & Mike Morning. It seems to me that the revamped morning SportsCenter and First Take will have a similar format…highlights combined with more interviews mixed in with commentary. Why duplicate yourself? And what about the content already found on ESPN News? What will be different?
I’m sure we’ll see how this move will benefit viewers as the August launch of the new SportsCenter will coincide with the Beijing Olympics. Much will be happening overseas to keep the content fresh. Once that is over then SportsCenter, First Take, and ESPN News may be sounding very much alike.
I think ESPN should rethink the way they should handle these morning shows and use their networks differently. Remember in the 1990’s when ESPN used to replay their sporting events early the next morning? Why not do that again on ESPN2 while the new version of SportsCenter and ESPN News do their reporting? Unless the network is hamstrung through their broadcast agreements with the leagues, I think that would be a great move to make. Those who want news can find it on SportsCenter or ESPN News. Those who missed the game have their chance to see it as it was first telecast.
Apparently ESPN feels these news programs will each find their niche and be a successful product on their own. Time will tell.