Inside ESPN’s 'SportsCenter': 6 Things That Aren't Seen on TV
ESPN anchors Steve Levy and Stuart Scott have both been on the air since 1993 reporting on the latest scores and breaking news from the SportsCenter studio in Bristol, Conn.
Their jobs – and the viewing experience for fans – is going to get very different when the network's new Digital Center 2 (DC-2) opens in mid June, and when The Hollywood Reporter got a sneak peek at the high tech 194,000 square foot space on Thursday, the longtime hosts revealed some of the SportsCenter secrets that you don’t see on TV.
1. They Are Night Owls
While ESPN has live broadcasts throughout the day – which will increase to 18 hours of live shows and 24/7 programming when DC-2 opens – Levy and Scott go on air live at 11 p.m. eastern every night from the sprawling 123-acre Bristol campus. "We have a show meeting every day at 5 p.m. It is an odd way of life, our show goes live from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. I roughly get to bed at 3 a.m., five nights a week. That is an oddity," says Levy.
2. They Are Sports Fanatics Too.
Being unbiased in their reporting and game coverage doesn't mean that the anchors and the rest of ESPN’s 4,000 staff members in the home base don't have their favorite teams. Located between New York and Boston, it is a pretty even split between the Yankees and the Red Sox during baseball season, reveals one staffer.
"The newsroom is so energizing because it is like a sports bar without alcohol," says Levy. "There are hundreds of television monitors, people are cheering and screaming for their teams. We do it too when no one is watching us -- but we don't cheer on the air.
"None of us were raised to be impartial journalists, we all grew up with a favorite team and players. Those lines run deep, and there is great camaraderie in the newsroom," he adds.
3. They Fight Over The Thermostat
Disagreements over the temperature happen in every office, and SportsCenter is no different, even on set. "I am perpetually cold, always, he [Levy] is perpetually hot," says Scott of his longtime partner. "Every time we do a show, there is a delicate balance between the frigid that he needs and the warmth that I need.
"I wear long johns every time I am in the studio, I wear long johns even in the office! I will triple layer what is under my shirt," he confessed.
4. They Sneak Snacks into the Studio
"I eat cereal during the show sometimes," says Scott of his mealtime rituals. "Twice during the night I have to drink some tea. I have my Cocoa Krispies but am very careful – if you are going to take a spoonful of cereal, you have to time it out between breaks. If you only have 30 seconds then you are still crunching when the cameras roll, you have to have two minutes and enough time to swallow and get back on the air."
5. They Still Make Mistakes -- Usually Live on Air
The new state-of-the-art studio isn't going to eliminate on-air blunders, in fact, it opens up the opportunity for even more. "The catwalk looks really cool up high but someone will definitely fall from that," says Levy of the new acrylic walkway from which analysts can access the giant touchscreen. "Are we going to screw up, yes? We misspeak and stumble on something every night," reveals Scott.
"The 'bulging disc' thing took place in the old studio," adds Levy, referring to his most infamous blooper when he referenced a baseball player's "bulging dick" instead of disc, leaving co-host Keith Olbermann in stitches laughing. "But I can clearly make the same mistake in the new studio.
6. They Love Their Jobs – No, Really, They Do
"The walk to the studio at 10.52 p.m. is still thrilling to me. It gets the blood flowing, I like to rush in," says Levy, saying he prefers to be late than early. "Filming live is always better [than pre-taped], we have the tease rolls, and then we are on the air for two hours. It is the best job in America."
Meanwhile, for Scott, the golden hour is the prep time before the cameras are rolling. "We have pods with the directors and producers all sitting there so throughout the night, we are having conversations about the show, about our kids, about what is going on in the games, stuff that will get on the show and stuff that won’t," explains Scott.
"When we say we love our jobs and are stealing money [from ESPN], we mean it… it is not the two hours we're on air – it is the time before, watching our favorite sports with our friends is the fun part."