ESPN’s ‘Around the Horn’ To Move to the Seaport Studios on Nov. 5
ESPN’s Around the Horn — which has been on the air for close to 3,600 episodes — will celebrate its “Sweet 16” on Monday, November 5 by debuting an entirely new look. The weekday sports news and debate show (5 p.m. ET, ESPN) featuring host Tony Reali and a rotation of four daily national sports media panelists will introduce augmented reality, new graphics and animations, a new logo and color palette, a fresh musical theme, and more. In addition, Reali will now host the show from ESPN’s New York Seaport District Studios.
“Around the Horn launched in November 2002 with cutting-edge technology as part of its DNA. Now 16 years later, the show has been re-imagined with state-of-the-art enhancements and a revamped aesthetic that we think fans are really going to enjoy,” says Alex Tyner, ESPN senior director, original content. “This project is the culmination of many months of innovative thinking and collaboration across ESPN and we are excited to unveil all the new bells and whistles on the show’s 16th anniversary.”
Around The Horn, which will continue to be produced from the ABC News Bureau in Washington, D.C., is the latest show to locate to ESPN’s new New York Seaport District Studios, joining Get Up!, First Take, High Noon, Jalen & Jacoby, The Stephen A. Smith Show and Always Late with Katie Nolan. Reali, who has hosted the show from Times Square Studios in New York since 2014, will now be based in the same 2,300-square foot studio that First Take occupies. Also, instead of only his head appearing in a box on-screen, Reali will now be seen in full frame and he will score the show while standing at a specially-designed console that features state-of-the-art touchscreen controls — no more joysticks.
A team of engineers, designers, integrators, and technicians from ESPN’s Remote Production Operations unit, ESPN Creative Services Motion Graphics Design and the DCTI Technology group have created a fully-integrated, three-dimensional studio environment that will result in a completely reimagined interaction between Reali and the four daily panelists. The system leverages Mo-Sys camera tracking technology, Vizrt rendering engines, and computer animated design.
As the show progresses from its opening First Word segment through its signature Showdown and Facetime ending, the panelists’ images will appear in-studio with Reali and can be enlarged, shrunk, isolated, and more. In addition, the higher scoring panelists who advance through the daily competition will transition forward closer to Reali.
From his touchscreen controls, Reali will continue to mute and award — or take away — points, while now having the ability to use new social media-inspired filters to react to the arguments made by the panel.
“Augmented reality is something we’ve wanted to try for years. A show with an impeccable scoring system and an immaculately wielded mute button just begs for that type of total immersion. The technology of this studio will take the video-game element of Around The Horn to the next level while also enhancing the debate and interplay of our panel,” says Reali, who has hosted more than 3,300 shows since being named to the role in February 2004. “I’m also looking forward to the new touchscreen console and moving around a bit, which will add to the pace and energy of the show.”
ESPN Creative Services, which led the design integration and graphics efforts, has designed a completely new brand identity for Around the Horn built around a palette of four vibrant colors — royal blue, light blue, red, and yellow. The colors will be incorporated into every aspect of the show, including the new ATH logo, graphics, animations, and transitions, as well as the backgrounds used to identify each of the daily panelists.
ESPN Music worked with the artist/composer Adam Dorn, aka Mocean Worker, to re-imagine the Around the Horn musical theme. Dorn, who has worked on television and film scores including Sundance selection Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, is highly regarded for his compositions that blend jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music together. He created a groovy, pop-modern version of ATH’s theme with a hip-hop underpinning, while still maintaining its fun, retro feel. To listen.
ESPN will also launch a new second-screen experience for all things Around the Horn. Fans will be able to view ATH show stats (all-time wins, appearances, winning percentages, etc.) and watch the popular “Behind the Horn” short-form videos, bloopers, and more.