Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick made hosting SportsCenter an art. Craig Kilborn used the gig as a stepping stone to late-night fame. And a multitude of other slick and quippy hosts have contributed to the sports vernacular over the years while describing home runs and slam dunks. But none of them were formally handed their very ownSportsCenter and instructed to have fun. Until now.
On Labor Day, the day before Stephen Colbert steps behind the Late Show desk, Scott Van Pelt gets the keys to a new midnight edition of SportsCenter as the network tries to make the special showcase a destination for sports-crazed viewers who’ve just finished watching the night’s big games. The 49-year-old Van Pelt has been with the network since 2001, anchoring SportsCenter and providing expertise in a wide array of sports coverage, especially golf. But while some of his ESPN peers have aggressively pursued the fame — or notoriety — that comes with clever catchphrases, hyperbole, and convenient contrarianism (read: trolling), Van Pelt has been a reliably thoughtful and reasonable figure on television and the radio, where he filled three hours of airtime every day with Ryen Russillo until recently. In that regard, Van Pelt might be the perfect guy for ESPN to entrust with bending the format of the show without breaking it.
The midnight show will have a slightly different look and feel, with Timbaland producing a special version of the SportsCenter theme to announce to viewers that Van Pelt’s isn’t the 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. edition of the sports-highlight show. Van Pelt spoke with EW about his new job and his mixed feelings about leaving radio. But before long, the conversation veered off topic and just became two guys talking about their favorite teams and their shared loathing of Jeffrey Maier, the New York fan who helped the Yankees beat the Orioles in 1996 when he interfered with a Derek Jeter fly ball that was subsequently ruled a home run.
“That’s as mad as I’ve ever been in my life at the outcome of a sporting event,” Van Pelt says. “I think I set a record for the most times the f-bomb was used in a newsroom setting. He later worked at ESPN! I think he had some internship. I remember saying after, and I wasn’t even kidding, I’m like, ‘It’s a good thing I didn’t run into that kid because I would’ve assaulted him.’ Good god. Sports in a nutshell. Here we are yelling at each other over this thing that happened 100 years ago. We’re all older than we used to be, but there’s just something about it. Things linger with you… the games are still interesting and they’re endlessly worth discussing and remembering. That’s the reason why we get to do a show at midnight.”
Van Pelt’s midnight SportsCenter just might be a conversation worth having.
To read the rest of the article, including the Q&A with VP, visit Entertainment Weekly where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.
NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.
Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.
Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.
ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.
ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.
Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.
The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.
FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend
The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.
In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.
Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.
FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.
Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.