When the News is not New


By the time TV Sports Anchors getting around to showing the highlights on the newscast it is a good bet that viewers already saw them on social media.

The New York Times writes that highlights flood fans’ Twitter timelines immediately: a buzzer beater on loop seconds after it drops through the net; a touchdown from multiple angles before referees have ruled it good. They flood our Instagram feeds thanks to users like House of Highlights, which delivers the day’s most important sports highlights to more than 12 million followers.

Despite the fact that ESPN has “SportsCenter,” with six editions each weekday, can no longer dangle the carrot of providing clips unavailable anywhere else. On most nights, when the highlight package rolls, Scott Van Pelt is telling a majority of the viewers about something they have already seen.

“Every person covering sports is trying to figure out the riddle,” Van Pelt said. He asked how a program could deliver highlights “to you in a way that you will want it and convince yourself that you will need it.”

Norby Williamson, an ESPN executive who oversees “SportsCenter,” pushed back against the idea that the show is becoming obsolete.

“We recognize that people have many options for viewing highlights now, but we continue to develop presentations that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Williamson said. “We’ll show you what happened but also how it happened and why.”

While ESPN still sees its network and the “SportsCenter” franchise as vital to the fan’s experience, what really matters is whether viewers will continue to see it this way.

Van Pelt knows that reckoning is coming soon.

“I keep thinking to myself this is a short window,” Van Pelt said. “It won’t go on forever.”

Now-a-days sportscasting is as much about the personality that is delivering the sports news as the sports news is itself.

TV stations need to hire personalities for sports and not just sports anchors. And although local Sports Anchors don’t want to hear it, local sports is the future of local sports.