At ESPN, we have a broad range of programming – from your traditional sportscasts to sports news and even quirky shows like SportsNation.
SportsNation is a sports show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun. It plays to one of ESPN’s guiding principles: “We take our sports seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
With the youngest-skewing audience of all of ESPN’s studio shows, it sets itself apart from the rest of the network’s programming by focusing on fan engagement and offbeat segments, such as games, music and pop-culture trivia.
“Our audience’s median age is 30 — right in the sweet spot,” says Jamie Horowitz, vice president, Original Programming and Production, who co-created SportsNation with Kevin Wildes, and now runs FirstTake, Numbers Never Lie and ESPN Sports Saturday on ABC.
Launched from ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, studios in 2009, the show has grown and evolved into the pop-culture-and-sports phenomenon that it is today.
“SportsNation increasingly lives in the nexus between sports and pop culture,” Jamie says. “The segments that were resonating with our fans were the ones that touched more on popular culture and less on our analysis of the 4/3 defense.”
Because of this emphasis, the show moved to Los Angeles earlier this year — the epicenter of pop culture. The move has helped SportsNation maintain its guiding principles: to give viewers something smart, something that makes them smile and something that surprises them.
Some of those surprise moments have included walk-ons by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Cedric the Entertainer or mixed martial artist Chuck Lidell, who came on the show and humorously berated the Lakers’ Dwight Howard.
Jamie adds, “Our way is to do things with a wink and a smile. That’s the lane we want to be in.”
If you haven’t seen the show, check it out to see why it’s become such a success!