Kendrick E. Johnson
The Shadow League
What once started off as a podcast with zero promotion that was built around authentic hot takes between two friends will now take a spot on the national stage.
Three years after Michael Smith and Jemele Hill debuted with their intelligent, fun and engaging ESPN show “His and Hers”, they are now launching their own version of the network’s flagship property – SportsCenter.
Taking over the 6:00PM (EST) slot as of today, it promises to be a more unique version of the show than has ever seen before. Their version of SportsCenter will now be known as “The 6”.
Hill and Smith will be breaking ground on many levels. The move is looked upon as a game-changer in the media industry as the duo will bring their authentic energy, passion and knowledge to the forefront daily for the world to see on the biggest stage. In a media game where it’s still rare, even in 2017, for two African- Americans to be the main attraction on prime time sports shows, Smith and Hill will do their best to change the game by simply being themselves.
“We are the first in many respects, as we are the first conversation opinionists they have put in the SportsCenter role,” Smith said in the duo’s exclusive interview with The Shadow League.
“It’s an evolution even we couldn’t have predicted because neither one of our goals when we both got to ESPN were to be a SportsCenter anchor or a co-host the way things are now,” Hill added. “SportsCenter has been trying to evolve and has been evolving into personality stamps, so it’s not about us changing or being different but it’s about us picking up our show and putting it into the six o’clock slot behind the brand which has always been ESPN’s baby.”
ESPN management has contractually guaranteed Smith and Hill three years in the time slot, with an option for a fourth. Their ubiquitous promo has them dancing around the ESPN campus to Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock “It Takes Two” and has been on so much over the networks airwaves the last two weeks, it’s even been a lot for them.
“We went from, ‘We get no promotion, to I’m seeing myself on television every five minutes’”, Smith said. “But I guess we are getting exactly what we bargained for, and that’s a good thing.”
The pair will continue to use their platform to address national social issues, and major issues in the black community while giving their high-profile guests time to shine on various levels. While other important ESPN shows like “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman and “Pardon The Interruption” with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon are based around ratings, “The Six” will be based around changing the game from what we know now.
“Even though we follow “First Take” on the ESPN lineup, we reject the comparisons because we are us just being ourselves and the people watching know that,” Smith said. “We always likened ourselves to a better version of “PTI” but our connection goes deeper than Mike and Tony’s, with all due respect. The difference is their culture is based around competition to debate until there’s a winner, and we discuss regardless of our opinion because we have too much respect for each other for it to be any way but that.”
For all fans of their closing segment, “Doing Too Much”, they want everyone to know that it has a firm home on “The 6”. In fact, it’s only going to get bigger and better on the big stage, which will mean more laugher and fun for all involved.
“That stuff isn’t going anywhere, and I think it just part of those assumptions of what SportsCenter is or isn’t,” Hill said. “I think every person who has a SportsCenter has been able to make it a unique thing best suited for them. Just because we are behind this big brand doesn’t mean things like that have to stop, and I don’t think they want it to stop.”
This story originally appeared on TheShadowLeague.com, a site dedicated to journalistically sound sports coverage with a cultural perspective that insightfully informs sports fans worldwide.