Espn, Executive Producer, Football discussed on WGR Programming
Sporting life this past week east sixty kicked off its twelfth season on ESPN the show goes back to two thousand seven for most of its history. It was a monthly show. But for the last two years, it's been a weekly show on Sunday mornings, nine o'clock eastern time who stood by yours truly in that that guy. Bob Lee, who's taken a long vacation. He calls it a sabbatical. It's really vacation. He says he's coming back in April. I I'm not holding my breath. We welcome to the show. Now. It's always interesting when you get to interview your boss, the executive producer of e sixty a man who's won about forty seven national sports EMMY awards, but who's counting my good friend. Andrew Tennant, Andy. How are you? Hello. Jeremy I'm holding my breath speak into the microphone. Okay. I know. This is what you normally do. But why why are we speaking of the microphone? Let's make this easy for the producers. Okay. I know you're a visual guy. It's a visual medium television, east sixties about production values, but this is audio east sixties back this past week in the season premiere the story about parkland about Marjory stoneman Douglas high school in parkland Florida, and it's football team trying to cope in the aftermath of the horrific school shooting that took place a year ago this week on February fourteen twenty eighteen. That was a story that in many ways is emblematic of what e- sixty is done. Sure. It's a story about sports. But it's also not a story about sports. It's also story that required a full year's worth of reporting and producing from Martin Cody bashing in particular, I was the reporter. But most of the work is as is. Usually the case you'd be the first to say that is done by the producer. Obviously there was an anniversary this week. But why did why did you sixty choose to tell this story about parkland? I think for us. It's about yes. We work for a sports network. Yes. We're a sports show. But you know. Our responsibility is to go out there and find stories that are compelling and are just about life where there's a lesson to be learned where there's something that provides the next chapter to a story. You know, I think at a certain point the coverage of the parkland stoneman Douglas mass shooting ended, and so moved on the cameras went away the store there were still coverage, obviously because many students have been have been politically active since then, but on the ground in parkland when the cameras go away a lot of coverage goes the they weren't in the headlines anymore and for us. It was about, you know, telling the longer story, you know, what is the next chapter. And what was the sports angle for us? And here's a football coach, you know, who who gave his life to try and save children. Here's another football coach who on one day in an instant lost his assistant coach also lost his boss. The director. Who were both killed in the mass shooting? And you know, we wanted to know we wanted to sort of tell the story of of of those relationships, but we also wanted to tell the story of of of strength story of courage story of how do you move on? You know, how do you take these kids and and push forward in the aftermath of of something as horrific as that. We're speaking with Andy Tennant, the executive producer of east sixty which returned on Sunday to ESPN one at nine o'clock eastern time for its twelfth season. And as I said earlier, the show has evolved from twelve to fifteen shows year, you could find them in prime time. We never knew exactly when they were going to be on when the season was going to take place was it going to be during football season not during football season. Now, we have regular schedule as we have had for the last couple of years. We're on every Sunday morning on ESPN one. When football is not being played. And we're on ESPN two every Sunday. Morning when football is being played. So now, we're in the heart of it since the Super Bowl two weeks ago. How did the move from time to Sunday morning change the way, you think about what the show should be? That's a great question. I mean, I think for us. It was really all about having a consistent timeslot. You know? I think when we were in primetime and often following sportscenter. You know, we were we were leading shows with our our signature profiles of the biggest athletes in sports, you know, bringing our fans up close and personal to these big stars in a way that you know, they they weren't being brought by our traditional studio shows. So, and that's really how we differentiate ourselves from the recipe SPN, and also, you know, from most of the sports shows that are out there. When we moved to Sunday mornings. It was like we finally had the answer to the age old question for us is I love the show. I just have no idea when it's on. And so the fact that we're on in some capacity, whether it's ESPN one or ESPN two on a Sunday morning at nine o'clock. You know, it's just for us. It's a great way for people to wake up and to be told a great story that's going to set the tone for the rest of their day or for the rest of their week. And I think we really wanted to focus on you know, who is the audience on a Sunday morning versus who is the audience and the prime time during the week. And you know, what are the metrics telling us what who are the demos out there? And I don't want to dive too deep into that. It did it did force us to rethink the show a lot about you know, what was going on on Sundays. What's going on that we can set the tone for the week also provides great content that complements sportscenter which is on both before. And after us on Sundays speaking with Andy Tennant, executive producer v sixty and say, you know, we go back a long way we worked on pieces as reporter and producer twenty years ago. And if you did I'm not going to get into any specifics that might be embarrassing to you, and you made some bad decisions about how little camera time. You gave me some things never change. But we consider. It ourselves lucky back. Then if we got seven minutes for a piece that was long and TV germs and somehow counter intuitively, the conventional wisdom being that the attention span of the audience gets smaller and smaller over time and digital distractions. You know, have made it harder to keep people's attention. All that are are stories. Now, we do twenty minute stories all the time we do half hour shows on single topics all the time hours pretty frequently as well. There was a time. When people said that's too long for TV how did that philosophy evolve? Where there's almost no limit to the time allotted to a story. Listen, I I've said this before I think thirty for thirty was the game changer. In fact, you know, you asked how what was the most significant change between primetime Sunday morning and a lot of it is the length of the pieces. You know, we just we go more in depth. We dive deeper into these stories and into these characters because we're on every week because we're on every week. But also, I think look when when the show was, you know, the idea for the show was originally being developed, you know, a lot of executives here were we're saying, you know, more story shorter stories, you know, look within that hour to get like six or seven stories like six to eight minutes because of the attention span that you were speaking of and then thirty for thirty we figured out. It's really just the executives attention. That's right. But then, you know, thirty for thirty came along, and they were telling stories longer than anybody else at ESPN and the response was overwhelming. And we started to look at ourselves as storytellers and say, you know, maybe we don't have this. Right. Maybe maybe shorter isn't better maybe longer is better. And so we really spent a lot of time being rethinking things considering the the success that our colleagues there had. And and and I think it's really been a game jenner's has such such a significant impact not only on how we tell stories, but on how you know, everyone tells stories across the board sports speaking with Andy Tan, executive producer of e sixty which is on of course, every Sunday morning at nine eastern time on ESPN. It's twelfth season. Just underway. There's a lot coming up this year. There's lot coming up this season. But but more important than just promoting the show, which is kind of the conceit here. I want to ask you, there's some talented people in the show. There's some great reporters. Great producers, who's the best reporter on the show a bodily. Bob doesn't report. He had to take a sabbatical needed to reflect not is not a professor needed to take the host. He's a very capable did, very briefly. But it's I keep telling him, it's not a sabbatical. If you're not a professor, it's a vacation, well, considering he's now giving a commencement speech. At Seton Hall in in may, I mean, I think there is an honorary degree that goes along with says, there isn't he's not showing up at the not giving him some kind of degree. We should have him on next week to talk about this. But that was very adeptly handled press. Andrew Tennant is the executive producer of e sixty back every Sunday morning on ESPN ESPN one at nine eastern time. Any thank you for keeping me on the show. I appreciate it. Thank you. Jeremy was was in any way, this better than a Harvard Cornell hockey game, I play obviously, I just watched those games those laws reaction Cornell beats Harvard on the ice. So let's say that we work for some Harvard. Guys. Don't we?.