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SportsCenter is a daily sports news television show, and the flagship program of Americanmarker cable network ESPN since the network launched on September 7, 1979. Originally airing once per day, SportsCenter is now shown up to twelve times a day, replaying the day's scores and highlights from major sporting events, along with commentary, previews and feature stories. Due to its durability, it has been aired more times than any other program in American television, with more than 30,000 unique episodes. It celebrated its 30,000th show on February 11, 2007. The show is taped in ESPN's HDTV studio facilities in Bristol, Connecticutmarker.

ESPN announced on February 18, 2009 that in addition to its operations in Bristol, the 1 AM ET/10 PM PT edition of SportsCenter will originate from ESPN's new Los Angelesmarker studio beginning in April 2009 and begin broadcasting live five nights a week.

Air times

SportsCenter normally airs live on weekdays from 9 AM ET to 3 ET, as well as at 6 ET (typically 60 or 90 minutes), 11 ET and 1 AM ET (typically 60 minutes each). The 1 AM ET edition is repeated at 2 AM ET and again from 5-9 AM ET.

Saturday viewers see a new episode from 10 AM-noon ET, along with the evening airings as above. On Sundays, an hour-long episode airs at 8 AM ET and another edition of varying length airs at 10 AM ET; the 11 ET edition airs for 90 minutes on Sundays and is repeated through the night. In the event of live sports coverage on the network, the show is occasionally delayed or moved to another ESPN channel. The show also is known to start early and run long, if the preceding game ends ahead of schedule or if breaking news warrants. The 1 AM ET (10 PT) edition of SportsCenter now airs live from Los Angeles and repeats throughout the night.


Standard definition era

George Grande introduced the country to ESPN when he co-anchored the first ever SportsCenter on September 7, 1979. His fellow anchor was Lee Leonard, a longtime New York broadcaster. According to Entertainment Weekly, Leonard spoke these words as the show opened: "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." (Entertainment Weekly, 8 September 2000, p. 94) Grande spent ten more years with ESPN and SportsCenter until 1989. Another early addition to the show was Chris Berman, who joined ESPN a month after it was on the air, and became a fixture at SportsCenter until the early '90s, when his main efforts became focused on the network's NFL coverage and Baseball Tonight; however, Berman remains a frequent contributor to the Sunday night 11 p.m. edition. Bob Ley also began anchoring early in the show's history and still regularly appears on the Sunday morning SportsCenter in addition to hosting Outside the Lines.

In 1988, the format was changed by executive editor John Walsh from individual sports or leagues to "newspaper style." Thus, it aired stories based on their importance regardless of the sport.

Early graphics and music included various kinds of sports balls flying outward, featuring a rapid-fire electronic audio track that was a version of "Pulstar," by Vangelis. By the early 1990s, the first of several theme songs to incorporate ESPN's trademark "duh-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh" fanfare was in use. The current theme music was composed by Annie Roboff, a composer who also co-wrote Faith Hill's 1998 hit "This Kiss."

Throughout the 1990s, SportsCenter's set saw many changes (see below). In 1994, ESPN began the This is SportsCenter ad campaign to promote their show.

The 11 p.m. anchor team of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann achieved great popularity in the late '80s and the '90s (interrupted by Olbermann's brief move to ESPN2 at that channel's launch). After Olbermann left ESPN in 1997, Kenny Mayne became Patrick's co-host; when Patrick moved to the 6:00 p.m. edition, Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott became the top anchor team.

During the summer of 2001, after ESPN, Inc. acquired a share of Canadianmarker sports network TSN, that network's sports news program, SportsDesk, was re-branded as SportsCentre (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 attacks on America through a simulcast of ABC News. The network considered not airing SportsCenter that night, and debated the topic for about an hour. Finally, a half-hour version aired which reported on the impact the attacks had on the sports world, announcing the cancellations of major U.S. sporting events that had been announced up to that time.

High definition era

High definition broadcasting started on June 7, 2004, and on the same day, ESPN began broadcasting the show from studios inside the network's brand-new Digital Center, debuting a new set designed by Walt Disney Imagineeringmarker and featuring a robust graphics package entitled "Revolution" designed by Troika Design Group. During that summer, ESPN celebrated its 25th anniversary, ESPN25, by counting down the top 100 moments of the past 25 years. They showed the countdown every day starting May 31, 2004, until the #1 moment, the United States men's national ice hockey team's victory over the USSR during the 1980 Winter Olympics, was aired on September 7, 2004.

SportsCenter premiered a segment called "50 States in 50 Days," during the summer of 2005, where a different SportsCenter anchor traveled to a different state every day to discover the sports, sports history, and athletes of the state.

On April 4, 2006, SportsCenter started showing highlights of Major League Baseball games in progress, which were previously an exclusive to another program, Baseball Tonight. This is seen in the Baseball Tonight Extra segment. Prior to that date, highlights of the aforementioned Major League Baseball games weren't shown on SportsCenter until the games went final (as shown on the ticker at the bottom of the screen, known as the "BottomLine").

On February 11, 2007, after the NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns, the 30,000th SportsCenter show aired. In that milestone show, Bob Ley recapped the events (and not-so-great moments) during the first 10,000 shows, Chris Berman did the same during the middle 10,000, as did Dan Patrick during the remaining 10,000. Steve Levy and Stuart Scott were the anchors on that 30,000th show. They also began broadcasting SportsCenter Minute, which is a web-streaming one-minute SportsCenter update seen exclusively on

The 11 p.m. Eastern Time edition on May 6, 2007 saw another major change, as SportsCenter introduced a "rundown" graphic across the right side of the screen. This feature appears only during reruns of the overnight show Monday through Saturday and on the main Sunday night program; on ESPNHD, it fills the right pillarbox where the ESPNHD logo would usually appear during standard definition footage.

The 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter moved up to 5 p.m. ET on May 28, 2007, and was, for the first time ever, extended to three hours. In that episode, ESPN aired live coverage of Roger Clemens's second start for the New York Yankees' minor league club in Scranton, Pennsylvaniamarker.

The 11 p.m. ET 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.)

2008 daytime expansion

On August 11, 2008, during the opening week of the Beijing Olympic Games, SportsCenter began airing live from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. The original plan was to start the live block at 6 a.m.; however, the network decided to scale it back before the expansion came to pass.

Former NBC Sports and CBS Early Show anchor Hannah Storm has joined ESPN to host the 9 a.m. to noon block. The new format now includes two teams of two anchors in three-hour shifts:

Sage Steele will provide updates every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This change also includes a new Web site to promote more interaction with viewers. The site was launched 8/11/08.

To promote these changes, ESPN held a casting of their employees to see who would be on almost 25 live and unscripted commercials a day. Steve Braband, an International Programmer, won, and can be seen about every half-hour (excluding from 1 to 4 CST) on ESPN. Additionally, the website was opened, with Steve's daily appearance schedule, blog, and video clips of past appearances and audition footage.


Starting with the 9 a.m.-noon ET edition (which was anchored by Hannah Storm and Sage Steele), SportsCenter debuted a new graphics package on April 6, 2009, with the "rundown" graphic (shown during the daytime editions) moved to the left side of the screen. A new BottomLine was also released that day on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNU, but it was quickly removed and reverted back to the old BottomLine (which had been used since April 2003) due to an equipment failure (however, this ticker was successful for the 2009 NFL Draft and the 2009 NBA Draft). The problem was later fixed and the new BottomLine returned on July 8.

April 6, 2009 also saw the launch of West Coast production of SportsCenter for the first time. The 1 a.m. ET (10 PT) edition of SportsCenter now airs live from ESPN's production facilities in the newly constructed L.A.marker Livemarker complex just across from the Staples Centermarker. The set is virtually identical to the main facilities in Bristol and will, for the time being, be produced as just another edition of the show. Neil Everett and Stan Verrett are the primary anchors for the Los Angeles-produced editions of this series.

The 2009 U.S.marker Open Golf Championshipmarker, 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 as SportsCenter, specifically "SportsCenter at the U.S. Open" which is similar to segments within the show with nightly highlights and anaylsis that originate from the event locations, much like "SportsCenter at the Super Bowl" and "SportsCenter at the World Series", etc.

In August 2009, Robert Flores, co-anchor of the noon-3pm ET SportsCenter, was replaced in that capacity with John Buccigross.

A completely redesigned Web site was launched 2009-11-16.

Anchors and reporters


ESPN Radio

ESPN Radio also has ESPN Radio SportsCenter with radio highlights airing three times an hour on the ESPN Radio network.

Conditions to showing highlights

Some sports leagues and organizations, including the NBA, NHL and college sports conferences, allow for brief highlights to be shown while the game is in progress. Major League Baseball allows them only as part of the Baseball Tonight mini-programs, as mentioned above. The NFL does not allow in-progress highlights at all outside of its own live game broadcasts.

ESPN is traditionally unable to air highlights of Olympic Games events until after the events have aired on tape-delay on the broadcast network holding the rights. ESPN began to show more Olympics highlights on-air and online beginning with the 2006 Winter Olympics; they received these extended rights from NBC as part of the deal that saw ABC release Al Michaels from his contract, so he could join John Madden and key production personnel for the new NBC Sunday Night Football. (This same deal gave back the Walt Disney produced Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoons that were originally distributed by Universal.)

In addition, there are many anecdotal reports of various TV networks (such as CBS Sports and NBC Sports) that will not release highlights of certain sporting events to ESPN unless its name is labeled across the screen for the entire length of the highlight (Courtesy NBC Sports, etc). (In some cases, the same stipulation is made to competing programs like FSN's Final Score, but not in all.)

As of 2007, ESPN no longer displays the actual name of the NASCAR Nationwide Series or Sprint Cup Series race during highlights of such (Example: the "Allstate 400 at the Brickyard" was re-dubbed the "Brickyard 400 pres. by Golden Corral").

Spin offs

  • BassCenter (2003–2006)
  • ScoreCenter on ESPN MobileTV (2007–present)
  • SportsCenterU (2006–present)
  • X Center (2005–present)

See also


  3. This is SportsCenter
  4. Sports Illustrated, Sep. 24, 2001
  5. 50 States in 50 Days
  6. ESPN whittles down 'SportsCenter' in daytime
  7. Associated Press report, Jan. 18, 2006

External links

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