ESPN's New 'SportsCenter' Studio to Debut on Sunday (Video)
ESPN's latest advancement, the high-tech 194,000-square-foot Digital Center-2 will make its debut on Sunday's SportsCenter, promising to deliver a new experience for both the viewers and the hosts.
After last month's behind-the-scenes tour of the impressive space, which is the most technologically advanced studio in the U.S., The Hollywood Reporter spoke with ESPN's Steve Levy, who will co-anchor the first show at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT after Sunday Night Baseball.
"The biggest change for us is certainly the awareness of our surroundings. We are almost never going to be sitting behind a desk," he said of working in the new production area that includes a 6,200-square-foot primary studio, a secondary studio and a social media newsroom. "We are going to all over the place — and the 'place' is massive!
"From the anchor perspective, the old desk is nice and comfortable and you have all your news notes, but now walking around, you don't have that luxury. So it will be a lot looser, a lot more on-the-fly, and we will have a lot of laughs," he revealed.
SportsCenter is about "the balance of informing and entertaining. The new set allows us to do that better," explained Levy, who said it will allows the hosts' personalities to come through more. "If you are having a good time doing it, then the audience will have a good time too."
The excitement about the launch is spreading around ESPN's mammoth home base in Bristol. Conn. "You can’t walk five feet on campus without people talking about it," says Levy. "For veterans like me and Stuart [Scott] who have been doing it for 20 years, the butterflies are back. It is really a fun time on campus, and it will translate on TV."
DC-2 was designed to be "future-proofed," according to ESPN president John Skipper, and its capabilities may not be fully experienced for months or years to come.
"I think the SportsCenter we do on Sunday night will look vastly different to three months from now," explained Levy. "Mistakes happen, they happened on the old set and they will on the new set. There are going to be some growing pains and a feeling-out phase.
"It’s like buying a new luxury car. No one ever reads the manual, and then it takes a few months to figure out what it can do. We are going to find out over the course of time just how fast this car can go."
Tune in for the first test drive on ESPN at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Sunday.
Watch a time-lapse video of the construction of the DC-2 below, and check out photos inside the studio here.