ESPN rebrands undefeated black-focused site to Andscape
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” This quote, by Maya Angelou, inspired The Undefeated, an ESPN media platform which, since its debut in 2016, has helped shape the national conversation by exploring the intersection of race, sport and culture from a of black sight.
On Monday, ESPN announced that it will be renaming and expanding the operation, which will now be called… Andscape.
Listen to them.
“It’s time to talk about Black and allsaid Raina Kelley, editor-in-chief of Andscape, in a phone interview. “Far beyond sports and athletes.”
She continued, “How are you an individual as a black person in America with your own set of interests, some of which are related by melanin, but not all of them? And how whole do you feel? We wanted to create a space where black people could be black people: Black led, Black POV, absolutely. But also where there were no definitions and no rules of what it meant to be Black, what you had to talk about.
In its early days, The Undefeated was a site within the larger ESPN.com. Andscape will have a much broader footprint, spanning book publishing, live experiences, music, TV and film as part of a content engine for ESPN and its parent company, the Walt Disney Company. Next Monday, for example, Andscape’s first short, “Starkeisha,” directed by Mo McRae, will premiere on Disney-owned Hulu. Andscape describes the film as “a young black woman’s journey into a fantasy world of darkness”.
Such expansion, however, necessitated a name change as ESPN and Disney do not fully own The Undefeated brand outside of news and commentary. There’s a clothing and sneaker company Undefeated that has no affiliation, for example.
“We couldn’t be everything we wanted to be,” Ms. Kelley said. “Now that we are growing within the Walt Disney Company, we needed a completely clear name.”
ESPN’s level of commitment to The Undefeated has been a matter of intrigue in media circles since the departure of Kevin Merida, who led the division from 2015 until last year, when he left to become editor-in-chief. head of the Los Angeles Times. Some have wondered if The Undefeated would go the way of Grantland, an ESPN boutique news site that was shut down in 2015. Like Grantland, The Undefeated was launched under the auspices of John Skipper, who resigned as president of ESPN in 2017.
Andscape reflects a “doubling” of ESPN’s investment and commitment to black stories and voices, the company said. “With The Undefeated, we have begun a dialogue that will be continued and expanded through Andscape to include more topics, more perspectives, and more ways to engage,” ESPN President James Pitaro said in an email. mail.
Ms Kelley, who helped introduce The Undefeated as editor, declined to say how much money ESPN is investing in the expansion. “I’m happy and spending,” she said. “That’s all I’ll say.”
Andscape will continue to be rooted in sports, although Ms Kelley said her team of 50 will provide wider coverage of news, music, food, fashion, technology, finance personal, parenthood and travel. The content will primarily be aimed at millennial and Gen Z consumers, she said.
Andscape’s YouTube channel, for example, will launch a weekly show on Friday called “Logged In,” which will examine the creative contributions of black people to the social media landscape. It will be hosted by Domonique Foxworth, the National Football League player turned pundit and ESPN writer. Another weekly YouTube series, “Another Act,” will be hosted by Andscape reporter Kelley L. Carter and will focus on Black Hollywood.
Ms. Kelley noted that black women make up the majority of her staff. A prominent Andscape journalist is Soraya Nadia McDonald, who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in criticism in 2020 for her unbeaten essays on film and theater, including “The Unbearable Whiteness of ‘Oklahoma!”