New State-of-the-Art Home for SportsCenter

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New State-of-the-Art Home for SportsCenter

Unparalleled Media Center Comes On Line in June
NFL Programming to Originate from DC-2 Late Summer

ESPN’s Digital Center-2, a 194,000-sq. foot, five-studio media facility, had its ceremonial opening today on the network’s Bristol, Conn campus. SportsCenter will be the first program to debut from the state-of-the-art DC-2 in June, followed by NFL programming later this summer.

DC-2’s infrastructure is future proof. The facility is format agnostic, currently planned for 1080p, and can handle all existing media formats and future industry standards capable of carrying data/signals at various rates, that haven’t been adopted by the television industry yet. SportsCenter moves into its DC-2 studio from the original Digital Center’s Studio F, which was designed for three hours of live daily SportsCenter in 2004. The new studio can accommodate SportsCenter’s expansion to 18 live hours a day.

DC-2’s SportsCenter studio, unlike any television environment in the world, is designed to support 24/7 programming, and allows for distinct differentiation of each show. The unique environment features a video floor, virtual technology, two touchscreens, a 56 LED multi-dimensional monitor wall and the ability to do live and pre-produced segments simultaneously.

ESPN Plaza includes 1.2 million square feet in 18 buildings on 123 acres.

“The new SportsCenter set embodies the spirit of innovation and ambition that has always distinguished our signature news and information brand,” said Rob King, Sr. Vice President SportsCenter & News. “Our new array of sets and screens provides a powerful showcase for our on-air talent to serve fans with their unique authority and personality. Dynamic new graphics and animation packages convey information and imagery with unprecedented clarity.”

The new SportsCenter set is divided by an enormous glass wall separating the 6,200-sq. foot Studio X, which will be home to those programs on ESPN and ESPN2, from the 3,500-sq.-foot Studio XA – The Annex – from where SportsCenter on ESPNEWS will originate. The center of The Annex will feature a large glass cube/work station, housing a new “SC Display Unit,” dedicated to overseeing what appears in the set’s 114 video and graphic display monitors.

The nearly 10,000-sq. foot SportsCenter studio is twice the size of the current studio and contains 100 more monitors than the original Digital Center studio which debuted in June 2004.

Studio Z, at 2,250 sq. feet, is the smallest DC-2 studio.

SportsCenter’s first studio — Studio B in Building 1, is 1600 sq. ft.

SportsCenter Studio X

  • South wall — main desk (Annex Studio in background) flanked by monitors with a 10’x10’ monitor sunken in the floor
  • East wall – can be configured into six separate panel monitors, one big monitor, or any combination in between with a “cat-walk” in front allowing  hosts to interact with the content displayed
  • Northeast corner — a 16’ x 10’ monitor wall on rails that can be brought to the center floor monitor to show an L–shaped wall of video
  • North Wall — a multidimensional display wall comprised of 56 monitors powered by ESPN-built software.
  • Northwest corner – a stationary  16’ x 10’ monitor wall
  • West wall — similar embedded riser system to the North wall, adding  8 stationary displays and one large center monitor outfitted as a touchscreen device.
  • SkyDeck – a wire tension grid system allowing operators to walk among the lights, to adjust, reposition or repair fixtures – during a live show if needed.

SportsCenter Studio Annex
On the balcony are four Craft Edit Suites for content editing and at the far left of the balcony is the “Social Media Studio;” this is where analysts and guests will be invited to do live streaming or blogging sessions, before or after appearing on SC, to help drive fans to linear or digital platforms.

In the center of the Annex studio is a giant glass cube, this is where the “Display Unit Team” will sit.  The team consists of Preditors (Producer/Editors), Motion Graphic Operators, Researchers and Graphic Producers, whose job is to create content which will appear in more than 100 monitors in both SportsCenter studios. There is set of workstations for those actively working on the on-air show and a second set for those working pre-production for the next show up.

“This is SportsCenter” — The DC-2 lobby hosts three interactive towers that show a cascade of video squares showing every “This is SportsCenter” promo.

Fans Will Notice SportsCenter Enhancements in DC-2

  • Animation: A fresh, unique 3D environment supported by an integrated 2D counterpart to create stylized and inviting environments that feel energetic and embody the spirit of sports and the SportsCenter brand
  • Music & Sound Design: Evolves the SportsCenter brand with a modern feel while maintaining the signature melody. The theme has three distinctive packages: day time, night time and serious news
  • Informational Graphics: Updated graphics to show information that is clean, bold and crisp 

Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation
DC-2 was submitted to the US Green Building Council for consideration for the “Certified” category of the LEED New Construction program. The following have been employed to reduce overall energy consumption:

  • high efficiency condensing boilers
  • CO2 monitoring for demand control ventilation
  • high performance lighting (CFL and LED)
  • lighting controls: occupancy sensors
  • daylight control: electronic dimming
  • variable frequency drive (VFD) controls on fan motors and pumps
  • High thermal property glazing keeps the building cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Water efficient landscape design uses native plants selected on the basis of tolerance to dry conditions. No irrigation system for the site is needed.
  • A groundwater capture system treats groundwater which is used for toilet flushing thereby eliminating the use of municipal water
  • An air handler condensate water capture system treats condensate water which is then used for cooling tower make-up, reducing the use of municipal water.

SportsCenter App
SportsCenter is the best example of ESPN’s app strategy – personalized, social and a template for cohesiveness across all ESPN apps. SportsCenter (formerly ScoreCenter) is the most popular sports app ever: 53 million total downloads.

“Our new visual design unites the linear and digital SportsCenter experiences, so whether you’re watching the show on TV or enjoying content on our mobile applications or interacting with our social experiences, you’re in a world that looks and feels like SportsCenter,” King said. “We’re bringing fans new ways to enjoy unforgettable storytelling, compelling interviews, state-of-the-art statistics and engaging, shareable content.”

SportsCenter will debut from new studios in the Los Angeles Production Facility in conjunction with the show’s DC-2 launch to ensure a unified look and continuity of the SportsCenter brand.



Allie Stoneberg

I advance ESPN’s communications and publicity efforts for NFL studio programming, Monday Night Football, the NFL Draft and our coverage of the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. I enjoy meeting journalists in person at games and events and delight in showing them around our Bristol, Conn., campus.
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