|Created by||Chet Simmons|
For current anchors and analysts, see section below|
(for past on-air staff, see SportsCenter anchors and reporters)
|Theme music composer||
John Colby (1989–2007)
Annie Roboff (2007–present)
"SportsCenter Theme" (1991–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||37|
|No. of episodes||90,000+|
Bristol, Connecticut (daytime and evening editions)|
Los Angeles, California (overnight editions)
|Running time||60–120 minutes (depending on content)|
|Distributor||ESPN Original Productions|
480i (4:3 SDTV; 1979–2004)|
720p (16:9 HDTV; 2004–present)
|Original release||September 7, 1979 – present|
SportsCenter is a daily sports news television program that serves as the flagship program of American cable and satellite television network ESPN. Originally broadcast only once per day, SportsCenter now has up to twelve airings each day; the program features highlights and updates, and reviews scores from the day's (or depending on the airtime, the previous day's) major sporting events, along with commentary, analysis previewing upcoming games, feature segments, and news stories from around the sports world.
Since it premiered upon the network's launch on September 7, 1979, the show has aired more than 50,000 unique episodes, more than any other program on American television; SportsCenter is broadcast from ESPN's studio facilities in Bristol, Connecticut and Los Angeles, California. In addition to airing simulcasts or network-exclusive editions on sister networks ESPN2 and ESPNews, the program also produces short in-game updates during sports events aired on ABC as well as an interstitial play countdown segment for fellow sister network Disney XD. ESPN is currently sponsoring SportsCenter and many other productions.
Overview and format
SportsCenter airs live each weekday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m., midnight, and 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time (with the early-evening broadcast typically running for 60 or 90 minutes, and the late editions typically running 60 minutes each). The 1:00 a.m. edition is often repeated until 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time. On Sundays, an hour-long episode airs at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, with another edition of varying length airing at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time; the 11:00 p.m. (Eastern) edition airs for 90 minutes on Sundays and is repeated throughout the night.
In the event of live sports coverage on the network, the program is occasionally delayed or moved to either ESPN2 or ESPNews (depending on whether one of the networks is carrying an event) until the event concludes. The program also is known to start early and run long, if the preceding game ends ahead of schedule or if breaking news warrants. Since 2009, the 1:00 a.m. Eastern edition of SportsCenter has been produced live from Los Angeles; that edition also is repeated during the overnight hours. ESPN also produces short 90-second capsules known as the SportsCenter Update, which air at select points within game telecasts on the network and sister broadcast network ABC to provide updates of other ongoing and recently concluded sporting events.
In addition to providing game highlights and news from the day in sports outside of the scheduled slate of games (including team player and management transactions, injury reports and other news), the program also features live reports from sites of sports events scheduled to be held or already concluded, extensive analysis of completed and upcoming sports events from sport-specific analysts and special contributors, and feature segments providing interviews with players, coaches and franchise management in the headlines.
Conditions to showing highlights
Some sports leagues and organizations, including the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and college athletic conferences that are members of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), allow for brief highlights to be shown while a game is in progress. From 2006 to 2013, Major League Baseball only allowed ongoing game highlights to air during SportsCenter within the Baseball Tonight Extra segments in the broadcast. The National Football League (NFL) does not permit the use of highlights for games that are ongoing at all, outside of those featured within its own live game broadcasts on the league's broadcast partners.
ESPN is traditionally unable to air highlights of Olympic events until after they have aired on tape-delay on NBC (which currently holds the American rights to the Olympic Games through 2032) or its co-owned sister cable networks. ESPN began showing more Olympics highlights on-air and online beginning with the 2006 Winter Olympics, with the network obtaining these extended rights from NBC as part of the 2006 deal that saw ABC release Al Michaels from his contract, in order to join John Madden and key production personnel for the new NBC Sunday Night Football (this same deal also reverted rights to the Walt Disney-produced Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoons from Universal Pictures, which originally distributed the shorts).
In addition, there are many anecdotal reports of various television networks (such as CBS Sports, NBC Sports and beIN Sport) that will not release highlights of certain sporting events to ESPN, unless the originating U.S. broadcaster's name is displayed on-screen for the entire length of the highlight (for example, "Courtesy NBC Sports").
Starting in 2007 and until its final season of broadcasting in 2014, ESPN stopped displaying the actual name of the NASCAR Nationwide Series or Sprint Cup Series race during highlights of such events (for example, the "Allstate 400 at the Brickyard" was referred to as the "Brickyard 400 pres. by Golden Corral"), unless the title sponsor of the race is paid for to the network; a similar stipulation also applies to the network's IndyCar Series coverage.
SportsCenter was conceived in 1979, and created by ESPN executives Chet Simmons and Scotty Connal. The program was originally anchored by Chris Berman, George Grande, Greg Gumbel, Lee Leonard, Bob Ley, Sal Marchiano and Tom Mees (Berman and Ley are the only ones that remain employed with the network, as of July 2016).
Grande introduced the country to ESPN when he co-anchored the premiere episode of SportsCenter on September 7, 1979 with Leonard, a longtime New York City sports broadcaster. According to Entertainment Weekly, Leonard said in the opening of the show: "If you're a fan, what you will see in the next minutes, hours, and days to follow may convince you that you've gone to sports heaven." Grande spent ten more years with ESPN and SportsCenter until he left the network in 1989.
Another early addition to the show was Chris Berman, who joined ESPN one month after its launch and became a fixture of the program until the early 1990s, when his main efforts became focused on the network's NFL coverage and Baseball Tonight; however, Berman remains a part of SportsCenter, including occasionally serving as a substitute anchor. Ley also began anchoring early in the show's history and still regularly appears on the Sunday morning edition of the program, in addition to hosting Outside the Lines.
In 1988, the program's format was changed by executive producer Walsh from focusing on individual sports or leagues to a "newspaper style" structure. As a result, the program began airing stories based on their importance, regardless of the sport.
The program's title sequence during its early years included various kinds of sports balls flying outward, set to a rapid-fire electronic music version of "Pulstar" by Vangelis. By 1989, the first of several theme songs to incorporate ESPN's trademark six-note fanfare (often referred to as sounding in the manner of "duh-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh") went into use. The theme music was originally composed by John Colby, who served as ESPN’s music director from 1984 to 1992, and created and produced music for various sporting events and programs seen on the network. The current version of the theme was composed in 2006 by Annie Roboff, who also co-wrote Faith Hill's 1998 hit "This Kiss". Throughout the 1990s, SportsCenter's set underwent many changes.
In 1994, ESPN launched the This is SportsCenter advertising campaign, a series of humorous, tongue-in-cheek spots featuring anchors and crew to promote the show. The team of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann – who anchored the 11:00 p.m. (Eastern) edition of the program – achieved great popularity during the late 1980s and the 1990s (interrupted by Olbermann's brief move to spin-off channel ESPN2 upon that network's launch in 1993). After Olbermann left ESPN in 1997, Kenny Mayne became Patrick's co-anchor on the late broadcast; when Patrick was moved to the 6:00 p.m. edition, Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott became the show's primary anchor team.
In 2001, Toronto-based Bell Globemedia and ESPN (which received a minority stake) jointly acquired the Canadian sports network TSN. As part of its shift to ESPN-influenced branding, the specialty channel rebranded its existing sports news program SportsDesk and changed its name to SportsCentre – using the same introductions and theme music as the ESPN version, except with its title rendered using Canadian spelling.
September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, ESPN interrupted regular programming at 11:05 a.m. Eastern Time to cover the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, and the aborted related hijacking-turned-plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania through a simulcast of sister network ABC's news coverage. ESPN considered suspending that night's editions of SportsCenter, and network management debated the topic for about an hour. Finally, a half-hour edition of the program aired that evening, featuring reports on the impact that the attacks had on the sports world, announcing the cancellations of major U.S. sporting events that had been announced up to that time.
On June 7, 2004, SportsCenter began broadcasting in high definition. Along with the conversion, the program introduced a new set designed by Walt Disney Imagineering (situated in a studio located at ESPN's new "Digital Center"), and a new graphics package titled "Revolution" that was developed by Troika Design Group. During that summer, ESPN celebrated its 25th anniversary, by counting down the top 100 moments in sports over the previous 25 years. The countdown was seen on each SportsCenter broadcast daily beginning on May 31, 2004; the countdown concluded with the #1 moment, the United States men's national ice hockey team's victory over the USSR during the 1980 Winter Olympics, airing on September 7, 2004.
During the summer of 2005, SportsCenter premiered a segment called "50 States in 50 Days", where a different SportsCenter anchor traveled to a different state each day to discover the sports, sports history, and athletes of the state.
On April 4, 2006, SportsCenter began to show highlights of Major League Baseball games in progress at the program's airtime; the rights to broadcast these highlights while games were ongoing was previously given exclusivity to fellow ESPN program, Baseball Tonight; the in-progress highlights are shown as part of the "Baseball Tonight Extra" segment. Prior to that date, video footage from MLB games was not shown on any SportsCenter broadcasts until the games completed play.
On February 11, 2007, following the NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns, SportsCenter aired its 30,000th broadcast. The special milestone edition was anchored by Steve Levy and Stuart Scott; Bob Ley, Chris Berman and Dan Patrick made guest appearances to recap events as well as bloopers from the first 10,000 shows (all three men individually counted down each set of 10,000 clips). ESPN also debuted the SportsCenter Minute, a one-minute SportsCenter update that is streamed exclusively on ESPN.com.
Four months later on May 6, another major change to SportsCenter was introduced on that night's 11:00 p.m. (Eastern) edition, with the debut of a "rundown" graphic that appears on the right-side third of the screen. This feature was originally only shown during rebroadcasts of the overnight edition on Monday through Saturday nights, and on the main Sunday night telecast; on ESPNHD, the sidebar graphic filled the right pillarbox where the ESPNHD logo would usually appear when standard definition footage was presented.
The 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter moved one hour earlier to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 28, 2007; at that time, the early-evening edition was, for the first time, expanded to three hours. During that broadcast, ESPN aired live coverage of Roger Clemens' second start for the New York Yankees' minor league affiliate in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time edition of SportsCenter on August 7, 2007, which was anchored by John Buccigross and Cindy Brunson, showed live coverage of Barry Bonds's 756th career home run, which broke the old MLB record set by Hank Aaron (ESPN was carrying the game live on ESPN2). In August 2008, the former WWE employee Jonathan Coachman joined ESPN to anchor the show.
2008 daytime expansion
On August 11, 2008, during the opening week of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, SportsCenter began airing live from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The original plan was to start the live block three hours earlier at 6:00 a.m. Eastern; however, the network decided to scale back the length of the daytime broadcast before the expansion occurred.
That same year, Hannah Storm (former NBC Sports reporter and anchor of CBS's The Early Show) joined ESPN to anchor the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. block of the program. The new format included two teams of two anchors in three-hour shifts:
- 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time: Kevin Negandhi (originally Josh Elliott) and Hannah Storm
- 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time: Jay Crawford (originally Robert Flores, then John Buccigross) and Chris McKendry
In addition, Sage Steele would provide updates every 30 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The changes also included a new website for the program – SportsCenter.com, which launched on August 11, 2008 – to promote more interaction with viewers. To promote these changes, ESPN held an employee casting call to see who would be featured in almost 25 live and unscripted commercials per day. Steve Braband, an International Programmer for the network, won, and was featured in ads shown about every half-hour (excluding from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on ESPN. Additionally, the network launched the website, steveislive.com, featuring Braband's daily appearance schedule, blog, and video clips of past appearances and audition footage.
Upon that network's launch on February 13, 2009, SportsCenter began producing a countdown segment, the SportsCenter High-5, for sister channel Disney XD (which is owned by ESPN majority owner The Walt Disney Company).
On April 6, 2009 (starting with the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time edition, which was anchored by Hannah Storm and Sage Steele), SportsCenter debuted a new graphics package that saw the "rundown" graphic – shown during the daytime editions – being shifted to the left side of the screen. On that same date, SportsCenter began producing its 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time edition of SportsCenter live from ESPN's production facilities in the newly constructed L.A. Live complex (just across from the Staples Center) in Los Angeles. The set is virtually identical to the setup at the main facilities in Bristol, and the late-night West Coast broadcast would be produced as simply another edition of the program. Neil Everett and Stan Verrett were appointed as the primary anchors for the Los Angeles-based editions of SportsCenter. A new BottomLine ticker was also unveiled that day on four of the five ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNU); the redesigned ticker was quickly dropped, reverting to the old BottomLine design – which had been in use since April 2003 – due to an equipment failure (however, this ticker was operational for the 2009 NFL Draft and the 2009 NBA Draft). After technical issues with the revamped BottomLine were fixed, the new BottomLine was reinstated on July 8.
The 2009 U.S. Open Golf Championship, which was repeatedly delayed due to weather, aired on both NBC and ESPN. Portions of ESPN's broadcast, including the early parts of the Monday final round, were presented under the "SportsCenter at the U.S. Open" banner – using a similar branding as the segments-within-the-show focusing on nightly highlights and analysis of a particular event originating from the event locations (such as "SportsCenter at the Super Bowl" and "SportsCenter at the World Series"). In August 2009, Robert Flores – co-anchor of the program's 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. block – was replaced on the early-afternoon broadcasts with John Buccigross.
On August 30, 2010, ESPN expanded SportsCenter to ESPNEWS, airing an additional seven hours of the program in separate blocks from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. By late 2010, the "rundown" graphic was expanded to all editions of SportsCenter. On April 22, 2011, Josh Elliott – original and main co-anchor of the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time block of SportsCenter – left ESPN to become news anchor for ABC's Good Morning America and was replaced on the late morning block of the program by Kevin Negandhi.
By mid-2011, shortly after ESPN and ESPN2 both converted to a 16:9 letterbox format (in compliance with the #10 AFD code) on their primary standard definition feeds, SportsCenter began showing all high-definition and standard-definition footage in the appropriate aspect ratio on the SD feed (with stylized pillarboxes adorned with the ESPN logo used on footage presented in standard definition). That same year on October, the former WWE employee Todd Grisham joined ESPN to anchor the show. The move required the letterboxed image to be shrunk in order to be displayed in that manner, with the "rundown" graphic continuing to be placed on the left side of the screen. In August 2011, John Anderson – who previously served as the 11:00 p.m. (Eastern) anchor – was moved to the early-evening 6:00 p.m. broadcast, replacing Brian Kenny (who departed ESPN to become a program host for the MLB Network). ESPN launched a completely redesigned SportsCenter.com website on October 16, 2011.
On August 25, 2012, the BottomLine was used to acknowledge the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. It was reportedly only the fifth of six times that an outside news event not involving an athlete was reported on the ticker, alongside the news of the September 11 attacks, the death of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 2005, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008, the Death of Osama Bin Laden, and the later death of former South African president Nelson Mandela on December 5, 2013.
On December 3, 2012, Lindsay Czarniak became the main co-anchor of the 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter. On February 8 and 9, 2013, the 11:00 p.m. editions of SportsCenter on both nights were broadcast from Los Angeles, due to a massive snowstorm in the Northeastern United States that prevented some staff from conducting the program out of ESPN's Bristol headquarters. Stan Verrett anchored both editions from the network's Los Angeles studios.
In late March 2013, David Lloyd and Sage Steele – both of whom were previously co-anchored the weekend morning editions – moved to the weekday early-afternoon block (from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern). The current daytime format, which was implemented that month, now features three teams of two anchors in two-hour shifts. On June 21, 2013, a large LED high definition monitor placed behind the main anchor desk was added to the main SportsCenter set in the network's Bristol facility.
In February 2014, production of the weeknight 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. (Eastern Time) editions of SportsCenter was relocated back to Bristol, due to renovations being made at the network's SportsCenter studio in Los Angeles. In addition, Neil Everett and Stan Verrett – both of whom had anchored SportsCenter from Los Angeles since 2009 – were moved back to the network's headquarters, before both hosts and the program's production returned to the then-newly renovated Los Angeles studio on June 23.
On June 22, 2014, SportsCenter began broadcasting from Studio X of ESPN's new Digital Center 2 facility, which concurrently resulted in a major overhaul to the program's production and on-air appearance. The new studio incorporates over 114 displays – including two touchscreens, large vertical screens, and a "multidimensional" video wall consisting of 56 monitors of varying sizes and positions that can be used to create pseudo-3D effects. The monitor displays can be used to show video content (such as highlights) and other relevant imagery (such as statistics), emphasizing the ability for anchors to present content on-set through means other than just through voiceovers. A new graphics package was also introduced, emphasizing a bolder, yet more simplified look – in both their appearance and the level of content. To coincide with the redesign of SportsCenter, a revised variant of ESPN's BottomLine ticker was introduced to compliment the new graphical design, using a dark grey color scheme. A downscaled replica of DC2's set was constructed for broadcasts originating from ESPN's Los Angeles studio.
On February 2 and 3, 2015, Lindsay Czarniak anchored the 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) edition of SportsCenter from ESPN's Los Angeles facilities, due to a major snowstorm that hit the Northeastern United States the previous weekend, which also affected ESPN's main facilities in Bristol. The previous week from January 26 to 30, Czarniak had co-anchored the 6:00 p.m. edition alongside John Anderson from the parking lot of the Scottsdale Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona as part of the program's coverage of Super Bowl XLIX. After that week, Anderson was moved back to the 11:00 p.m. broadcast, making Czarniak the solo anchor of the 6:00 p.m. editions on weeknights starting on February 2.
On September 7, 2015, Scott Van Pelt became the solo anchor of a revised 12:00 a.m. (Eastern) edition of the program, which is more freeform than other SportsCenter editions and promoted as SportsCenter at Night, or SC@Night for short. In addition to featuring highlights and discussion panels, it features Van Pelt's analysis of sports events in a style similar to that conducted on his former radio talk show SVP and Russillo, during the replacement of Danny Kanell as the new co-host of Russillo Show alongside Ryen Russillo, and utilizes a modified version of the show's theme (composed by Timbaland), as well as a different lighting and graphics set.
In October 2015, Ronda Rousey became the first female athlete to guest host on the show.
On February 8, 2016, SportsCenter moved its start time from 9:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, with the launch of a new three hour morning block from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m., titled SportsCenter:AM. Maintaining a faster paced format, the program focuses on highlights from the previous night in the first hour, the top plays and moments of the previous night's sporting events in the second hour, and the upcoming day in sports in the third hour. SportsCenter:AM also shares resources with Good Morning America and ESPN2/ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike.
On October 11, 2016, ESPN named His & Hers co-hosts Jemele Hill and Michael Smith as co-anchors of the 6:00 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter, effective February 7, 2017. They will replace Lindsay Czarniak, who has been anchoring the 6:00 p.m. ET edition of the show since December 3, 2012.
November 13, 2015
On November 13, 2015, ESPN interrupted regular programming around 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, to cover the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks on Stade de France and downtown Paris as well as the hostage situation in the Bataclan theatre, where a concert of American rock band Eagles of Death Metal was interrupted by the terrorists who killed 89 people. ESPN FC correspondent Jonathan Johnson, as well as French president François Hollande, were attending the game in the Stade de France, around which the three explosions occurred. While Hollande evacuated from the stadium at half-time, Johnson remained in the stadium, and after the game he described to the viewers the panic of the fans who attended the game and came to the field, after being noticed by the Stade de France's PA announcer. After the hostage crisis ended, a special edition of the program was aired, featuring analysis and reports on the impact that the Paris attacks had on the sports world and social media reactions of sportspeople to the attacks, announcing the postponements of some major European sporting events that had been announced up to that weekend.
ESPN America version
On March 1, 2010, ESPN launched a special domestic edition of SportsCenter on its European channel ESPN America. The half-hour program, anchored by Michael Kim, aired Monday through Fridays at 6:00 a.m. Western European Time (7:00 a.m. Central European Time), with a late-night broadcast at 10:30 p.m. WET/11:30 p.m. CET.
In April 2012, the ESPN America edition of the program was expanded to weekends, and moved to 8:00 a.m. WET (9:00 a.m. CET). At that time, a localized version of the program that was previously produced was discontinued and was replaced with an edited version of the 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time telecast from Los Angeles, recut to fit a 45-minute time block through the removal of commercial breaks and stories on European sports (such as soccer); the program began to be repeated at 8.45 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and 4.45 p.m. (WET).
ESPN Radio SportsCenter
Current on-air staff
- Anchors (as of June 2016)
- John Anderson
- Matt Barrie
- Max Bretos
- Nicole Briscoe
- John Buccigross
- Cari Champion
- Jonathan Coachman
- Linda Cohn
- Kevin Connors
- Jay Crawford
- Lindsay Czarniak
- Elle Duncan
- Neil Everett
- Todd Grisham
- Jay Harris
- Lisa Kerney
- Steve Levy
- David Lloyd
- Jade McCarthy
- Kevin Negandhi
- Jaymee Sire
- Hannah Storm
- Scott Van Pelt
- Stan Verrett
- Adnan Virk
- Sara Walsh
- Dianna Russini
- Antonietta Collins
In the year-to-date period through June 30, 2013, the 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) edition of SportsCenter registered an average audience of 665,000 viewers (an 8% decline from 2012), while the 11:00 p.m. edition averaged 870,000 viewers (down 21% year-to-year).
- BassCenter (2003–2006)
- ScoreCenter on ESPN MobileTV (2007–present)
- SportsCenterU (2006–present)
- X Center (2005–present)
- Ome Center (2009–present)
- ESPNews – ESPN's 24-hour sports news network, which carries specialized editions of SportsCenter
- ESPN3 – an interactive sports streaming service featuring supplementary programming content
- SportsCentre – the Canadian version of SportsCenter on TSN
- Fox Sports Live – a daily sports news program on Fox Sports 1, which serves as the direct competitor of SportsCenter
- The 'Lights – a daily sports highlight program on NBCSN, that differs from both Fox Sports Live and SportsCenter in its use of voiceovers for presenting highlights in lieu of on-camera anchors
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