ESPN to Debut Live, Extended SportsCenter Block

ESPN beginning Aug. 11 will premiere a new live nine-hour block of SportsCenter, its flagship news, highlights and information program, which will be televised from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. The morning portions will be hosted by Hannah Storm, who is joining the sports network, after serving as one of the co-hosts on The Early Show on CBS from 2002 until last year. The announcements were made in conjunction with ESPN’s upfront presentation today (May 13).

The total nine-hour block will feature three teams of two main show anchors, an update anchor and production personnel split into three-hour shifts.

The live SportsCenter replaces repeat SportsCenter editions from the night before, a process that ESPN has been using since 1996.

ESPN officials are hoping that the new, live program will draw more viewers, and it clearly opens up a huge new ad revenue stream for the network. Commercials will also be enhanced by the network running a continuous “Bottom Line” scroll across the screen during commercials so that viewers will continue to get news and scores during breaks, while at the same time being able to view the commercials.

In conjunction with the new live block, ESPN will launch to provide viewers with a greater chance to interact with the show and its commentators via blogs, instant polls and other online features.

“These live SportsCenters will answer fans’ call for greater immediacy and interactivity,” said Norby Williamson, executive vp, production for ESPN.

“Going live will allow us to put a fresh perspective on the previous night’s games and cover breaking news during the day, all within the traditional SportsCenter approach, which focuses on highlights, scores and news.”

Prior to joining CBS News in 2002, Storm spent 10 years at NBC Sports, where she hosted four Olympic Games, as late night host for two and daytime and weekend host for two others. She also hosted NBC’s Major League Baseball coverage for six years and acted as part-time host and reporter for NBA on NBC for five years.

The August 11 premiere date for the new live SportsCenter block coincides with the start of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

ESPN also announced that it will be relaunching high school sports magazine Rise, as ESPN Rise; and that the Disney Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, will be rebranded with the ESPN name, and ESPN will get involved in the events that take place at the location. The complex hosts more than 180 events in 50 sports each year, and ESPN advertisers will now have another venue to use in any cross-platform buys they make with the network.

During the presentation, EPSN also detailed a host of new content that will be made available on during the coming year.