Scripps Sports goes center stage with WNBA coverage on Ion

Scripps jumped into the sports broadcasting arena in 2023 with the launch of Scripps Sports. 

The brand officially debuted with the WNBA season on Ion, part of a multi-year rights deal between the league and Scripps, but that is only the beginning. Scripps Sports is already expanding this fall to include NHL coverage of the Vegas Golden Knights and the Big Sky Conference. 

For coverage of the WNBA, Scripps had to develop not only an overall brand for its sports production but also a graphics package that could be flexible enough for future expansion.

“The challenge of launching sports on a new network (besides not having a long runway of time) was that while we were pursuing creative that had to be robust and best-in-class, this package also had to be flexible and cohesive enough to pair well with our Ion brand – anchored by a collection of television’s most-watched dramas, with no significant sports presence,” said Larry Morris, creative studio head, Scripps Networks. “We were extremely fortunate that our flagship sports franchise on Ion was a partnership with the WNBA.”

Both Ion and WNBA use orange as a dominant brand color — a lucky break given the speed at which the overall design had to be created for air. 

The WNBA plays using distinctive white and orange balls, so the Scripps team, working with Two Fresh Creative and Gameday Creative, used that as a jumping-off point for the design.


Scripps Sports was created in late 2022 as a way to bring sports coverage to Ion Television, which E.W. Scripps owns through its Katz Broadcasting subsidiary. 

“We knew early that we wanted our Scripps Sports brand to have the elements of light that are core to our corporate DNA and legacy at the E.W. Scripps Company. This was important both for the overall hallmark logo animation aesthetic and the live on-air package environment that we would need to create for any of our professional sports franchise partners,” said Garrett Cook, vice president of creative design at Scripps Networks. 

Having debuted with its first “Friday Night Spotlight,” a WNBA doubleheader broadcast, the Scripps Sports broadcast design is centered on the concept of a “stage.”

“It became obvious when we saw the first pitch from Gameday Creative that best container for this concept was a ‘Stage’ where we could showcase the light emerging from our CG logo as well as dynamic neon glowing structures and objects that could be customized depending on the sport,” noted Cook.

The stage element shows light emerging from the Scripps Sports logo alongside dynamic neon glowing structures and objects. 

While developing the package, Two Fresh Creative noticed synergy between the Ion and WNBA brands, driven by the color orange, and pitched an idea that combined white leather and slick extruded logos with orange neon trim.

Scripps knew from the moment they saw the pitch that it would make a strong core for a toolkit that could be used for promo graphics, transitions and live on-air elements.

Gameday Creative, meanwhile, delivered the “WNBA Friday Night Spotlight” open and hallmark, the Scripps Sports capper, show title card and two transitions. 

All of the visuals were backed up by original music created by Scripps’ director of audio, Patrick Magee, and inspired by the anthems played during many sports telecasts. 

Gameday centered its work around the theme of “suo jure,” a Latin term meaning “in her own right,” explained Scott Flato, executive producer at Gameday.

“This graphics concept visualizes the journey to the top,” he said.


“The women playing in the WNBA have battled physically, mentally and socially to reach the top of their craft. It does not get bigger and better than the WNBA; this is the culmination of years of hard work and determination. We wanted a graphic style that told this story, that captured the hard journey and rewarded teams and players who ascended to a greatness few people get to experience in life.”

Along with the animations, Gameday also explored different logo options and designed the final logo. A 3D model of the final look was also built by the Gameday team and used throughout the various elements. 

“The Scripps team wanted to showcase the WNBA in a very prestigious way — to feel like a hero, feel grand, not second place to other sports,” Flato added. “This is their primetime event and we needed to capture that. The benefit for us is we get to do what we do best: bring the sports energy and excitement to a new, premiere event.”

Looking to the future of other planned and yet-to-come sports broadcasting partnerships for Ion and Scripps Sports, the trio of teams was also mindful that the package would change when covering other sports, so designs were created with the ability to replace basketball shapes and textures.

All elements had to work seamlessly with designs created by Two Fresh and in-house at Scripps — as well as the existing WNBA broadcast look.

Due to time constraints, in-show graphics were created by modifying and expanding the WNBA’s existing design. This included taking the project files from Two Fresh and smoothing out the leather texture to tie into the existing look. In many cases, the original Cinema 4D models were used to iterate these additional looks. 

Scripps added dozens of new transitions, bumps, opens, billboards, bugs and snipes to the hundreds of elements already available that could not be redesigned in time for the May 2023 launch.

“The benefit of being new kid in town for sports was that the expectation from sports fans and our audience was that we would probably play it safe and show up with something typical of most RSNs, which is often practical, functional and expected. We shot for the moon, and we believe that we over-delivered creative that was best-in-class, unexpected, and sustainable for any sports presence on our networks for years to come,” said Morris.

As a newcomer to the crowded world of sports telecasting, Scripps Sports had to “come out of the gate swinging and establish credibility,” said Flato.

“As an agency partner, it is our obligation to bring their vision to life, with a style that is new and fresh, shakes hands with the network’s identity, and proudly accomplishes their goals as a company,” Flato added.

Although Scripps is a new network, the people working behind the scenes have years of experience in sports broadcasting.

“Throughout the project, they were passionate and collaborative. Their direction and vision were communicated to us clearly and concisely. We couldn’t have asked for better partners to collaborate with,” noted Flato.