ESPN beefs up morning, late-night shifts

ESPN’s upfront presentation saw the company shore up its morning and late-night dayparts, among other news. In addition to shifting Mike & Mike to New York and tweaking its format, the company also announced plans for SportsCenter AM, which will run from 7-9a. The new show is “designed for viewers who are on the move and don’t have much time early in the morning, the new live show will take the popular “SportsCenter Top 10” franchise and turn it into a program with the previous night’s top plays, storylines, quotes, blunders and more.” “You’re going to leave SportsCenter AM knowing the top things that have happened through the course of the evening and what you need from the sports world to start your day,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “We realize people are busy at that time of the day so this show will be produced in a way that viewers can watch by listening.

Meanwhile, the company announced that Scott Van Pelt inked a new multi-year deal and will now become solo anchor for SportsCenter’s weekday, midnight edition starting in late summer. Popular elements of his radio show, like “One Big Thing,” will be incorporated into the hour-long telecast. Van Pelt will continue to host ESPN golf coverage in addition to other assignments but will no longer do his radio show once the midnight show begins.

Other news to come out of the ESPN upfront presentation included word that ESPN’s NFL Wild Card playoff game will now be simulcast for the first time on ABC, as well as ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown pre-game show. The decision to simulcast the Wild Card game was made in conjunction with the NFL to maximize the audience across the two networks. “Our first Wild Card playoff game was one of ESPN’s highest-rated and most-watched events ever,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “By leveraging the broadcast platform we have on ABC, the upcoming Wild Card will rank among the most-watched programs of the year and we will reach even more fans during the NFL postseason.”

ESPN will also double down on the final week of the 2015 MLB regular season, announcing plans to carry up to seven Postseason Impact Games, three of which are new this year. All games will feature matchups with direct postseason implications leading up into ESPN’s exclusive presentation of the American League Wild Card Game.

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