Student Advisory Board Member
SportsCenter has been the go to television program for sports fans for years. If you wanted to see the highlights from the big game, you turned to SportsCenter. If you wanted to hear a coach overreact to a loss, you turned to SportsCenter.
But in recent years, SportsCenter has seen its ratings decline due, in part, to social media and other competition such as Fox Sports 1.
Now, ESPN is trying to revitalize it's flagship program with a new format to the midnight edition of SportsCenter.
Scott Van Pelt is taking over the midnight SportsCenter as the new face of the network. The show is being advertised as it's own independent show complete with its own set, logo, and hashtag, #SCSVP. He even said on Twitter recently that the show will have it's own title for DVR purposes. The show will also offer commentary, guest interviews and even a segment on gambling.
Expect the new SportsCenter to have a radio-like feel. Van Pelt was a major part of ESPN Radio and said that his bosses have given him the freedom to do what he wants with his show to make it his own.
Few people at ESPN could take on a solo gig like this and have a chance at success. Van Pelt is one of the few. Not just anybody can walk into the network's longest and most successful program and make it his or her own. Van Pelt told Sports Illustrated why he thinks this format will work:
“I’m an adult and so are many of the viewers and we will approach it that way,” Van Pelt said. “I’m not going to talk down to you, I have a sincere enthusiasm for what we get to do and I think that will translate. I think it will work because they have put me in a position where if it does not I would be surprised. I’m not going to bulls--- you.”
The new SportsCenter debuted Monday night after the Ohio State - Virginia Tech football game. Van Pelt's first guest was a big get for the network - Dan Patrick.
Patrick, who was instrumental in getting ESPN to where it is today, left the Worldwide Leader in 2007 and hasn't returned since. He was back on the airwaves last night for Van Pelt's first show as a visitor. He even left his VISITOR badge on throughout the interview. It was an enjoyable, yet slightly awkward, moment of television pairing The Mothership's top studio talent with one of it's best ever. Watch the whole segment here.
Van Pelt's new SportsCenter is an attempt by ESPN to make the show appointment television like it was when Patrick hosted the show with Keith Olbermann, who joined other top ESPN talents like Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd in recently leaving the network.
Will the show be successful? Time and ratings will tell. But, success to Van Pelt means more than just numbers and dollars.
"If we have fun and I can approach it the same way I did radio where I am authentic to me and interests me and present it that way, I will go home at 1 a.m. and think that was a fun show. That’s success to me.”