Sportsnet seeing new view

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:00 AM ET

Six years later, the little sports network that could is still in an evolutionary phase.

And no, that's not a knock.

Truth be told, Rogers Sportsnet's latest makeover easily qualifies as the network's sharpest look yet. It's most obvious on the network's flagship show, Sportsnet News, which has undergone a transformation of sorts this week.

First, the graphic stuff. Gone, for the most part, is the white-dominant look, replaced by bolder shades of blue and grey (or silver -- take your pick). It stands out on just about everything you see, including some fancy new sets and a ticker across the bottom of the screen that is easier to follow.

"We didn't reinvent the wheel," said Scott Morrison, Sportsnet's director of news. "We just took the wheel that was already there, and hopefully made it look better.

"It's a fresher, brighter look."

Accompanying it all has been some shifting in the content and personnel of the daily news shows. The biggest move has been the elimination of the live component of Sportsnet News' morning edition.

MORNING SWITCH

Instead, a fresh version for morning use is pre-taped after the prime-time show the night before. It has been expanded to 60 minutes, twice the length of the old show.

"There's a lot of competition in the morning, and not just from other sports shows," said Morrison. "It seems like everybody has added a morning show to their mix. We just felt this was a better way to redeploy our resources."

The decision wasn't made simply to avoid hiring a replacement for Hazel Mae, who left the show in August to work for the New England Sports Network (NESN). Though Morrison admitted, "when Hazel left, it made that decision easy."

Sportsnet is also testing something new on its East Region feed in the morning. A 15-minute package, titled the Sportsnet Highlights Factory, now runs on a one-hour wheel.

"We wanted to try some different things in the morning," said Morrison. "We haven't locked into anything long-term yet."

DUO SPLITS UP

The other significant change comes at the supper hour, when Sportsnet has split up its team of Jim Van Horne and Jody Vance.

Van Horne now flies solo Sunday through Wednesday, while Vance takes over the rest of the week.

Morrison said the intent was to use both to cover off every day of the week. There was also the belief that two anchors aren't needed to share a 30-minute show.

"We look at all seven days as being important and significant," said Morrison, adding the new schedule frees up both Van Horne and Vance to work on "other special projects."

Jamie Campbell and Brad Fay, who've spent most of their time working on Sportsnet Live, are being brought back into the prime-time rotation. You'll also see more of Daren Millard and Sean McCormick in that area. Mike Toth remains the late-night mainstay.

"It allows some of our best people to be on the air as much as possible," said Morrison.

"I think it will help keep things a lot fresher, too."

In other words, you're never too old to think new.


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