Popular Commentators Sign New, Multi-Year Deals to Remain with ESPN
Program to Include Commentary, Interaction, Guests, News, Highlights
Capitalizing on the personality-driven His & Hers program and continuing a successful SportsCenter trend, ESPN will launch a reimagined version of the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter next year led by popular ESPN commentators Michael Smith and Jemele Hill.
Hill and Smith, who have signed new, multi-year deals to remain with ESPN, will take over as co-anchors of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter on February 6, 2017, the day after Super Bowl LI. They are currently co-hosts of His & Hers on ESPN2.
Lindsay Czarniak, currently the anchor of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, will go on maternity leave in early November and return next year in a new, featured role that will be announced later. During Czarniak’s absence, the 6 p.m. program will be hosted by Zubin Mehenti, Matt Barrie and other current SportsCenter anchors until Smith and Hill’s debut.
“Jemele and Michael have unique chemistry and impressive journalistic credentials, and we look forward to bringing their entertaining mix of perspective and passion to SportsCenter,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “Just as we did with the one and only Scott Van Pelt, we’ll build a new version of our program that amplifies all that makes them special.
“This is another major step in the evolution of SportsCenter,” he said. “With SportsCenter:AM, SportsCenter: Face to Face with Hannah Storm, SportsCenter Coast to Coast and Scott’s midnight show, we’re designing shows to match SportsCenter with audiences and their needs and interests at various times of day. It’s our biggest brand within ESPN, and it’s a great forum for some of our biggest personalities.”
Smith and Hill will merge the best aspects of His & Hers and SportsCenter in the new 6 p.m. program. The show’s format will be conversational and interactive, covering multiple topics, with commentary and opinion from Hill and Smith. And just as the 6 p.m. SportsCenter has always done, the program also will set up big sports events of the night with newsmaker and analyst interviews as well as bringing viewers the latest sports news and highlights. In September of 2015, Van Pelt brought some elements from his former radio program to the midnight edition when it launched,
In addition, the revamped SportsCenter will follow the pattern of Van Pelt’s program with segments produced for both the television audience and to maximize digital and social sharing.
“What makes this next step perfect for us is that we don’t have to become something we’re not,” said Smith. “We have the complete support of everyone here to be who we are, and carry on the things that made His & Hers a successful show, and us a successful pair.
“We feel as if we’ve been building toward this, even though neither one of us ever saw ourselves as SportsCenter anchors. We hope to embed the culture and vibe we created on His & Hers into ESPN’s signature program.”
Hill and Smith will continue to host His & Hers for the immediate future with their final show date to be determined. An announcement about new programming will be forthcoming.
“This is just surreal for both of us,” said Hill. “For us to be associated with the cornerstone brand of ESPN is beyond thrilling. There is such a rich history and tradition associated with SportsCenter that it’s a little overwhelming, but we’re eager to leave our own mark.
“We’ve had a great run on His & Hers, and it will always be our first born and first love. It’s the core of who we are and we have no plans to abandon the chemistry and fun that is a hallmark of His & Hers. We’re just moving what we do to another significant platform and different time slot.”
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