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No sport? that’s okay! How ESPN is keeping quality sports content flowing during the Covid-19 pandemic

“Sport often acts as a distraction from everyday life for many people and I think that is still prevalent today even without matches being played. People still want to feel connected to their favourite sports/clubs which has made us become more creative in the type of content we put out.” ESPN employee.

With most of Europe on lockdown, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause havoc to people’s lives and routines. The luxuries of being able to go shopping, attend music or sporting events, or even go to the pub with your friends after work have stopped for the foreseeable future – and it could still be a while until ‘normality’ resumes for us all. 

One element to our everyday lives that must remain constant is the news that we consume. It’s vital that we are updated as regularly as possible to stay safe and educated throughout these unprecedented times.

Major news organisations across the globe are working tirelessly to ensure a constant stream of quality news output, regardless of the bizarre circumstances we find ourselves in – and ESPN is no different. 

Despite all sporting events being cancelled, ESPN is determined to maintain their constant stream of output and provide its audience with content which can be consumed from their homes.

Read about the controversial decision to cancel the Australian Grand Prix here

Parklife sport spoke to an employee of ESPN about their role at the company and how they’ve adapted to circumstances of covering news from their homes. However, due to legal reasons, the employee has asked to remain anonymous for this interview. 

“The ability to provide fast and accurate news is a key factor to ensure viewers return in the future,” he said. “Thankfully we have been able to provide a constant stream of news, whether that’s through interviews, analysis pieces, podcasts, or the all-important transfer gossip!”.

The employee expressed that communication is key to ensuring that the overall output of content is to the highest standards possible, and thanks to a piece of software called ‘Slack’ this has helped the company continue to function at a relatively normal capacity:

“If anything, our communication as a team has improved, the key to working from home is clear communication – and knowing exactly what’s expected of you to ensure we aren’t all working on the same content,” he said.

“When chatting as a team we use an application called Slack, it’s basically an online chatroom but it has every single ESPN employee on there who you can easily contact when needed. 

The use of group messaging on Slack is vital for a smooth-running day as everybody is able to see what each individual is working on. Video conferences are also an important tool we use to communicate on group planning sessions which normally happens twice a week for any potential ideas we may have,” he added.

Journalists have certainly been faced with many challenges that have been thrown at them during the lockdown, but one of the biggest challenges they have had to overcome is staying as creative as possible. With no live sport for a few weeks now, how have the video team at ESPN handled this demanding situation?

“With no sporting events to attend, no dramatic moments to analyse, we have had to become more creative with the content we produce to provide the audience with something other than news focused around the pandemic,” he said.

“It is important to read the news on this constantly changing situation, but it can be overwhelming so providing sports news can give people something else to concentrate on.

Live sport may have ceased for the time being, but we have found that we have been given even greater access to athletes for exclusive interviews perhaps because they are bored themselves! Through producing interviews, nostalgia pieces, quizzes, opinion articles, and podcasts we are constantly adapting and coming up with new ideas to keep the content fresh,” he said. 

Sport can lend itself as a distraction from everyday life, coupled with the importance of having a good mental-wellbeing, it can help those who want to take their mind off any pressures they may be facing.  

“Despite there being a severe lack of global sporting events, we have noticed there is still a need and a want from the public for sporting news. 

“Sport often acts as a distraction from everyday life for many people and I think that is still prevalent today even without matches being played,” he said. “People still want to feel connected to their favorite sports/clubs which has made us become more creative in the type of content we put out.” 

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