ESPN launches a short-form version of SportsCenter on Snapchat

Sarah Perez
ESPN launches a short-form version of SportsCenter on Snapchat

ESPN today announced it's launching a short-form version of its SportsCenter show on Snapchat, which will kick off today at 5 PM ET. The show will then begin to release new episodes on a twice-daily basis, at 5 AM and 5 PM on weekdays and once, at 5 AM, on weekends. The launch will make SportsCenter the first-ever daily sports show on Snapchat's platform.

The move comes at a time when Snapchat is rethinking its image, which to date has been focused on primarily attracted teens and young adults to an app that's been designed to keep older adults out. SportsCenter's viewer demographic, however, has traditionally been more extensive - popular with those in their 30's, 40's and 50's, too. That means the show could appeal to a slightly older crowd than Snapchat-using high schoolers - perhaps older millennials, for example.

Meanwhile, the move gives ESPN the chance to try to reinvent itself for the new digital age, where sharp rises in cord cutting are heavily impacting its business. The changes in TV viewer behavior have been bringing down parent company Disney's revenues as well. The company recently reported a weak fiscal fourth quarter, where revenues dropped 3% year-over-year to $12.8 billion, thanks in part to declines in its Media Network division.

Disney attributed the drop to lower advertising revenue at ESPN and higher programming costs for the network.

The Snapchat show itself will be only three to five minutes in length, and will include a mix of the latest sports news, highlights and commentary. It will also be hosted by a rotating group of ESPN talent. The first episode will be hosted Emmy-winning sports personality Katie Nolan, who recently joined ESPN from FS1, the company notes. Others expected to host future shows include sports anchors Elle Duncan and Cassidy Hubbarth, as well as ESPN Radio host Jason Fitz and comedian Cy Amundson.

Snap and ESPN (which has been a Snapchat Discover partner since 2015), will share revenues from the program, but declined to detail the deal's terms.

SportsCenter on Snapchat provides a creative new format and platform for our flagship franchise to continue to evolve,” said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president, content, in a statement. “Katie, Elle, Cassidy, Jason and Cy collectively bring a new style, energy and substance that I believe will connect with Snapchat’s audience in a real way. I’m thrilled to bring this level of talent and personality to a new and innovative daily touchpoint for ESPN.”

SportsCenter isn't the first flagship media program to join Snapchat in recent months. Both NBC News and CNN launched Snapchat news shows this year, which have joined other efforts from VICE, E!, A+E, and others.

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