ESPN’s Presentation, Revamped

Yes, that's Tebow on the right.

Pastapadre notes today that a video EA Sports released to reveal Tim Tebow as the cover athlete for NCAA Football 11 also revealed that the game looks like it has ESPN presentation much like the ESPN and CBS presentation in NCAA Basketball 10. That is quite cool: Though I didn’t really love the gameplay in the last version of the college hoops game, the presentation was immersive and compelling, and did a great job of translating what you see on TV to a game you can play, and I assume the better-manned gridiron franchise will take that even further. (Update: Bingo.)

However, this is interesting to me not just as a sports gamer, but as an ESPN watcher, because I forgot that The Worldwide Leader’s changing its on-screen presentation for college football, and maybe more than that.

Consider this, a package of highlights from Florida’s win at Mississippi State last fall:

You see a black-and-red score bar at the top, with lots of angular shapes; this has been ESPN’s house style for college football for a few years. The network’s used the same style for its college basketball broadcasts, too—witness the presentation from South Carolina’s upset of Kentucky earlier this year—and it works, because it’s unobtrusive, informative, unobtrusive, aesthetically interesting, and unobtrusive. (You may have a guess as to what matters most to me about presentation.)

What we see in the screenshot from the video is obviously not that same style. It’s actually the same style ESPN’s been using for Monday Night Football for the last two years; check out these highlights from last year’s Vikings-Packers tilt on MNF.

It’s a boxier, more rectangular style, one that swaps basic black and red for silver and gray and throws in team colors, too. It’s on the bottom of the screen, which is a little more obtrusive, but not terrible, and it’s a more bland, less stylistic presentation overall.

But that makes sense, because that presentation is also the standard for ESPN broadcasts on ABC. Look at the Celtics-Cavaliers highlights from last Sunday.

It’s the same MNF-like package, with obvious alterations, for basketball. And it was used for college football on ABC and ESPN throughout the bowl season, including during this January’s BCS Championship Game.

But that’s a national championship game, and likely the last one that will be on ABC for a while, with ESPN moving the game to cable in 2011. I was hoping against hope that the package would stay that way. But there wouldn’t be ESPN-based presentation in NCAA 11 that only got used for one game last year, and there won’t be any “old” presentation packages going forward.

I think we’re going to see an ESPN-wide shift to “new” graphics for live broadcasts that are virtually identical to the Monday Night Football package (MLB broadcasts excepted, because that bizarre little rectangle is already new), starting with this Saturday’s broadcast of North Carolina’s spring game. (Update: Yeah, it’s the silvery scheme.)

And I think that’s unfortunate, because the red and black really does look better, and switching accomplishes nothing, as far as I know. But then, I’m a dork with a blog.

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2 Comments

Filed under ESPN

2 responses to “ESPN’s Presentation, Revamped

  1. The ESPN football in-game scoreboard for college football actually changed to the MNF-style board during the 2009 bowl coverage. I can recall seeing it used during the New Mexico Bowl; I’m certain you could find it on highlights of other games as well.

    FWIW, I’m not a fan and hope they change it to something closer to their scoreboard for English Premier League on ESPN UK. Don’t have access to videos now, but it’s less obtrusive, and therefore better IMO.

    • I like that, and like their presentation for World Cup (it was already used for Confed Cup) matches. And you’re right, it did get changed for the bowl season: These Alamo Bowl highlights are evidence. (I forget most of the bowl season every year, because watching 90% of those games live is a waste.)

      I don’t really like this, either.

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