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ESPN to turn ‘SportsCenter’ into digital content

ESPN to turn ‘SportsCenter’ into digital content

ESPN is taking its iconic “SportsCenter” brand in a new direction, by creating more original videos for digital and social. This content will be on and the mobile app — and will be distinct from the TV show.

According to ESPN, these digital clips could be the “SportsCenter” hosts working on a story away from their desks, behind-the-scenes sketches with athletes and celebrities visiting ESPN’s HQ in Bristol, CT, or short features on a specific topic. Thus far, the 40-person video production team have created one-off videos, such as one with Magic Johnson doing behind-the-back passes to Michael Smith and Jemele Hill while the “SportsCenter” anchors prepare for the network's newest SC6 show.

“SportsCenter” generated 290 million video views on Facebook, Instagram and Vine in January, according to Tubular Labs and ESPN's mobile app averages nearly 16 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore.

“If we do it right, this will turn into a virtuous cycle of creating content that works in digital, and turn around and present that within our linear shows, and vice versa,” said Rob King, ESPN’s SVP of SportsCenter and News to Digiday.

Last week, ESPN announced Vivid Seats, an online ticket marketplace, as a partner. The new partnership replaced the relationship between ESPN and eBay’s StubHub, which was started in 2007. In Q1 of 2017, The Walt Disney Company, ESPN's owner, posted revenues of $14.78bn — falling short of expectations of $15.26bn. Despite the shortcomings, the company is enthusiastic about several aspects of their business, including investments in media, especially digital, through their $1bn investment in BAMTech in August 2016 and the launch of an ESPN-branded OTT service.

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