After months of planning, preparation and rehearsal, the new midnight (ET) edition of ESPN SportsCenter, hosted by Scott Van Pelt, will premier Monday, Sept. 7, immediately following ESPN’s telecast of the game between No. 1 Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
The longtime ESPN anchor, who also previously hosted a program on ESPN Radio, will introduce a different version of SportsCenter, presenting the world of sports as seen through his unique perspective.
“Scott and a team of very talented and creative people have been working hard to be ready to launch a new and entertaining midnight SportsCenter,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “The show will deliver what sports fans are used to from SportsCenter but in a different and fast-paced way, led by the intellect, humor and sports fandom of Scott Van Pelt.”
Much as was done on the previous SVP & Russillo radio show, the program will showcase Van Pelt’s passion for sports, with his self-deprecating wit and disposition toward celebrating stars and storylines.
“It’s still SportsCenter,” said Van Pelt. “It’s still a show that at its core is about whatever has happened that day in sports – highlights and stories – and not a variety show. It’s our interpretation of what SportsCenter would be if you blended it with some room for commentary. The crux is that it’s SportsCenter, just our version of it.”
While presenting the day’s news and highlights with Van Pelt’s own spin, the program also will offer commentary, guests and interviews, with featured elements that set it apart from other editions of SportsCenter, including:
- One Big Thing — the trademark essay from Van Pelt’s radio program
- Bad Beats — games that had a unique resonance in Las Vegas
- Best Available Video — the fun, extraordinary images of the day
- Best Thing I Saw Today — Van Pelt’s nightly pick of the signature moment/topic
- Oh, No! — a kinder, gentler, and shorter version of the SportsCenter “Not Top 10,” presented with empathy
- West Coast Bias — a feature designed to serve fans who watch at 9 p.m. PT, at times including 1 a.m. SportsCenter anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verrett.
- Where in the World Isn’t SVP? — Tweets from fans who see lookalikes of Van Pelt at places around the world
“Our thought was ‘how do we create a long list of possible ways to just take a different approach to stories?’” Van Pelt said. “It’s a great group of creative people, and we’re far from done. September 7 is when the show starts, but we don’t have to be done then. Our list of ideas won’t end that day. That’s just the first day we take a stab at it.”
Music will play a large role in distinguishing this edition of SportsCenter from others, with a special new cut of the SportsCenter theme produced by Timbaland in collaboration with Jingle Jared for jingle punks. Also, Van Pelt favorite Trombone Shorty provides music for a regular football season Thursday segment called “Winners,” a carryover from his radio show.
New graphics have been designed especially for the program and the show’s set will have a refined desk, lighting and overall positioning for a differentiated, intimate feel.
Key members of the show’s staff include producer Tom DeCorte, director Rodney Perez and “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, a former producer of Van Pelt’s radio show, who will have both an on- and off-air role, appearing on-camera for segments and also helping to book guests and conceive show ideas.
The premier of the show coincides with the 36th anniversary of the launch of ESPN on Sept. 7, 1979.
“That’s an honor,” Van Pelt said. “They tried something different 36 years ago, and we’re trying something just a little bit different here.
“The good news for me is that I have 36 years of what’s been great about ESPN and what’s been great about SportsCenter behind me, so I can stand on the shoulders of all the folks who have built it.”
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