Friday, September 13, 2013

How ESPN anchors its network

ESPN is clearly holding its own in the new battle over 24-hour sports television. They have the NFL, MLB, NBA and other important live sports properties. But they have something else. An incredibly strong brand in SportsCenter, their nightly wrap up show that has been a staple of the network almost since its inception.

Why is SportsCenter so strong?

Not because they show scores and highlights, you can get most of those on your local news sports segment. Not because of all the high-tech wizardry they use on their set. Not even because it's on one of ESPN's networks almost every hour of the day.

What makes SportsCenter so strong is its cast of anchors and the personalities each member has created for him or herself. If you watch the show regularly you know who likes which sports, their catchphrases and the idiosyncrasies that make their presentation of sports news interesting.

But one way the network helps bring those personalities to life and demonstrate how inside sports ESPN is, is the This is SportCenter campaign, of which this is just the latest excellent execution.

If Fox, NBC or CBS ever get into the conversation of 24-hour sports broadcasting, it will be because they don't just deliver sports news and but because of the strong brands of the people who deliver that news.

That's the only way to truly differentiate their networks in the long run.

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