ESPN has announced it will launch a reimagined version of the 6pm ET SportsCenter next year led by popular ESPN “His and Hers” commentators Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. Hill and Smith, who recently signed new multi-year deals with the network will take over as co-anchors of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter starting February 6, 2017, the day after Super Bowl LI. They are currently co-hosts of His & Hers on ESPN2.
Lindsay Czarniak, who currently anchors the 6pm SportsCenter, is going on maternity leave in November and will return next year in a new role that will be announced at a later time. While Czarniak is gone, Zubin Mehenti, Matt Barrie and other current SportsCenter anchors will fill in.
“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.
Smith and Hill will merge the best aspects of His & Hers and SportsCenter in the new 6pm program. The show’s format will be conversational and interactive, covering multiple topics, with commentary and opinion from Hill and Smith. In addition, the program will also will set up big sports events of the night with newsmaker and analyst interviews and the latest sports news and highlights.
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.”
“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.”
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.