By Barry Janoff
May 19, 2014: ESPN is moments away from the official unveiling of its 193,000-square-foot Digital Center 2 on the campus in Bristol, Conn., of which 10,000 square feet will house SportsCenter, and to immortalize the event the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" will also unveil a "This is SportsCenter" spot poking fun at the new facility.
The spot, which ESPN previewed during its "Always On" themed UpFront in the Minskoff Theatre in New York's Time Square last week (May 13), stars SportsCenter anchors Hannah Storm and Kevin Negandhi, with Nagandhi showing Storm around the high-tech SportsCenter set.
Negandhi is holding a remote, which he tells Storm controls all the aspects of the set. "This button controls the screens," he tells her as we watch a row of screens in the middle of the room separate.
Next, he pushes a button which he says "controls the lighting" as the studio goes from bright to mood lighting.
Finally, he attempts to make the anchors' desks moves via his control. But nothing happens despite his repeated attempts.
The scene then cuts to a hallway where several ESPN anchors, employees and the Teddy Roosevelt mascot that races other presidents between innings of Washington Nationals home games are standing in front of a vending machine. The candy from inside is spewing out wildly, as if the machine was being control by a remote digital device.
"It's happening again!" someone yells.
The new Digital Center 2 likely will be around long after the digital-related spot is relegated to "Best of 'This is SportsCenter'" archives. ESPN said the facility would serve as a central hub for a variety of ESPN programming and will also function as an integration point for live events and content that’s developed for the Internet and mobile viewing devices.
Reminiscent of John Clayton's "This is SportsCenter" spot, in which the bespectacled NFL correspondent revealed his heavy metal side played out to Slayer, ESPN during its UpFront revealed that another spot would feature anchor Scott van Pelt and the iconic Metallica. Van Pelt talked about during the ESPN UpFront in New York (May 13). "I just did a spot with Metallica," he said. "It has nothing to do with the proceedings here. But it was kick ass."
ESPN and Metallica are not strangers. ESPN joined with the iconic group this past September when Metallica: Through The Never was about to hit theaters, with preview clips shown during SportsCenter segments. In addition, music clips across ESPN included uch songs as "Wherever I May Roam," "Hit The Lights," "Ride The Lightning" and "Fuel" from the Metallica: Through The Never soundtrack.
And in 2010, ESPN used Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" to support their "It's Anyone's Race" Nascar promo.
Other "This Is SportsCenter" spots will include Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg (see Strasburg's spot here), both of the Nationals, executives said during the UpFront.
ESPN's Digital Center 2 is scheduled to go live in June in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
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