Disney’s sports channel is focusing its TV schedule around personalities including Steve Levy, Kenny Mayne, John Anderson, John Buccigross, Sage Steele, and Hannah Storm — who have signed new multi-year deals.
And starting August 28, SportsCenter will offer frequent news updates on TV as well as digital platforms.
The initiative, SportsCenter Right Now, will aim to offer twice per hour updates — more if there’s breaking news — on ESPN from 7:00 AM ET to 3:00 PM. They will “expand in placement and frequency over the following months,” the company says.
The company will produce updates featuring Toni Collins for ESPN.com and the sports entity’s app until 6:00 PM ET.
And SportsCenter Right Now news will be integrated into live telecasts of prime time games, including during half time on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, ABC’s NBA Finals and Saturday Night Football.
SportsCenter will remain on on ESPNEWS in prime time on most weeknights. For the rest of this year it will still run weekdays from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
“SportsCenter seeks to serve sports fans with singular talent, exceptional news coverage and unprecedented accessibility,” says SportsCenter and News SVP Rob King. “As our audience and its needs change, we change to serve those fans and meet their needs. We always have, and we always will.”
ESPN also will boost the profile for many of its most popular anchors.
Levy, Mayne, Anderson and Buccigross will host SportsCenter at 11:00 PM ET. The new deals with them “assure the creative core of SportsCenter’s signature postgame experience will remain intact for years to come,” ESPN says.
Steele will anchor SportsCenter:AM on Monday-to-Thursday from 7:00-to-10:00 AM ET. The Friday-to-Sunday shows focusing on the most popular weekend games will feature Kevin Negandhi, Jay Harris, Randy Scott, Elle Duncan and Matt Barrie along with Steele.
And Neil Everett and Stan Verrett will remain as anchors of the Los Angeles based version of SportsCenter that airs 1:00 AM ET.
As part of a new deal to remain with ESPN, Storm, currently the host of the 10:00 AM ET SportsCenter, will host prime-time specials and and provide “high impact journalistic pieces to key properties such as E:60 and SportsCenter,” the company says.
Sarina Morales, who was a contributor to SportsCenter:AM, is a Fan Correspondent for all editions of SportsCenter .
Last month ESPN laid off about 100 of its 1,000 public facing on-air announcers and dot-com writers. They included longtime baseball guy Jayson Stark, veteran NFL analysts Ed Werder and Trent Dilfer, NHL analyst Scott Burnside, legal analyst Roger Cossack and Dodgers reporter Doug Padilla.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts last week that ESPN was “looking at some program changes …with an eye toward addressing not only where consumers are today, but improving our non-live sports programming numbers.”
As sports fans turn to digital platforms “we’ve taken advantage of that and we believe the money will follow.”