Idea Blog

Whiteboard Animation + The Worldwide Leader in Sports

Claude Harrington 10.27.2015

Like many folks around the country, there are a few things I like to do every morning before heading to the office. Pouring a bowl of cereal, making a cup of coffee and then sitting down for a quick bite while reading the 21st century equivalent of the Sports section: ESPN.com. This morning, however, I was met with a pleasant surprise when, mid-sip, I noticed something very interesting on the front page of the worldwide leader in sports…

ESPN Front Page Whiteboard Story

See that? No? Okay, let’s zoom in a little closer…

Header- His and Hers Whiteboard

It’s a whiteboard animation on the homepage of ESPN!

Here’s a link to the video: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:13979127

This whiteboard animation was created for ESPN’s His and Hers, a daily sports talk show hosted by Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. And what this video essentially does it turn their reporting of the NBA’s annual GM survey into a fun, information-laden segment about the prowess of a young star named Anthony Davis.

GM Survey Whiteboard Animation Anthony Davis Shooting

Given the growing popularity whiteboard animation, it’s not completely surprising that the Worldwide Leader in Sports would be attracted to the medium. But its usage on a hit ESPN show, not to mention its placement on the website’s homepage, seemed prominent for a few reasons:

1. Professionalism + Fun: The biggest knock against animated explainers (and it’s admittedly become a much quieter knock these days) is that companies are worried it might not be perceived as professional. So the fact that ESPN, a highly respected industry-leader known, has embraced whiteboard animation is just another sign that this perception is changing.

2. Welcome to the Land of Animation: Where Information is Made Un-Boring. The danger with most fact-driven segments–whether for ESPN, another network, or another company in a completely different line of work–is that a bombardment of information can bore or deter the targeted audience. But time and again, well-made explainer videos can demonstrate an uncanny ability to educate while entertaining. So particularly with sports, where stats are so often used as the basis of opinions and arguments, it’s great to see ESPN utilize whiteboard animation to highlight important statistics:

 stat 1 whiteboard animation stat 3 whiteboard animation stat 4 whiteboard animation Stat 5 Whiteboard Animation

3) Characters and Brands: Because of the blank canvas look inherent to whiteboard animation, the format provides an easy and effective opportunity to highlight characters and brands.

 character 1 Whiteboard Animation His and Hers ESPN Whiteboard Animation

…Interestingly enough, in the time between starting this blog posted and finishing it, ESPN has since added another animation to their homepage. It’s not whiteboard animation, but it still adds further evidence to the points outlined above…

ESPN Alt Animation

Here’s a link to the video: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:13979832

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