May 3, 2018

Stephen A. Smith to Anchor Special NBA Finals Editions of SportsCenter

Stephen A. Smith will host a special series of SportsCenter programs during the NBA Finals next month and have a larger presence on the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter during the upcoming NBA conference finals as the early evening show builds on two straight months of year-over-year viewership gains.

The announcement, intended to capitalize on Smith’s deep NBA connections, comes as the 6 p.m. SportsCenter earned a nine percent rise in viewership for April after a four percent rise in March.

“Stephen A. Smith is an authority on the NBA and we’re excited to provide another way to showcase and maximize his contributions to our NBA coverage,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, studio production. “With the SportsCenter editions originating from the game sites, there will be ample opportunities for A-List guests to join him and prepare fans for the night’s action.”

Smith will be on-site to host SportsCenter programs at 7 p.m. for weeknight NBA Finals contests, leading into NBA Countdown at 8 p.m. on ESPN and then NBA Countdown and the game telecast on ABC.

Smith’s ESPN presence includes serving as featured commentator on First Take (10 a.m. weekdays on ESPN) and hosting the daily Stephen A. Smith Show on ESPN Radio (1-3 p.m.). He also frequently appears on morning and evening editions of SportsCenter to react to NBA news and other happenings in sports.

“Yes, I am synonymous with First Take. But none of my success at ESPN — absolutely nothing — would’ve been possible without SportsCenter,” said Smith. “It is the SportsCenter brand that has made ESPN what we’ve become. To have my name up in lights as HOST during the NBA Finals is unreal. An incredible honor for me. And I plan on making the most of it. Buckle up! Stay Tuned. And don’t miss it.”

Smith’s increased inclusion on the pre-prime time SportsCenters comes at a time when the 6 p.m. show has been keying on delivering fans up-to-the-minute news, previews and analysis of the night’s slate of games and events.

April’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter averaged 526,000 viewers, a nine percent rise over the 483,000 average for April of 2017. The growth for April followed a four percent year-over-year rise in viewership for March.

“The 6 p.m. SportsCenter has focused on including breaking news as well as an emphasis on ‘setting the table’ for the night in sports,” said David Roberts, ESPN vice president, network content, who oversees SportsCenter’s 6 p.m. program. “The response from viewers has been fantastic, as April’s increases indicated an appetite for coverage of the biggest stories in sports, such as: the Masters, the NBA and NHL playoffs, the return of MLB to Puerto Rico and the lead-up to the NFL Draft. During the playoffs, the show takes on even greater importance in informing fans.”



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