ESPN's 'Social Highlights' Mash Up Shows Big Moments From Fans' Lens[VIDEO]

Sam Laird

The sports highlight is extremely standardized by now: an amazing play, sequence or moment is replayed from one or more angles, while a news anchor or announcer recaps what happened. Sometimes the video runs along with its original play-by-play audio, or maybe with the live radio call.

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But, in the age of social media permeation and mobile video proliferation, this is no longer enough, according to UNITE, a new late-night show that airs on ESPNU. The social media-heavy show has introduced a regular installment called "social highlights," which leverage just how much video modern fans shoot on their smartphones while at the game.

The idea is simple, but pretty powerful. Footage from commercial TV broadcasts and radio audio clips are edited together with video fans get from the stands and share to Twitter or YouTube. The result? Immersive highlights of major sports moments.

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"We wanted to find a way to find a different side of what a highlight is, something you wouldn't normally see unless we aggregated the videos and put them with some high quality production," UNITE producer Yaron Deskalo told Mashable.

The example above shows the final outs of Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez's perfect game in August. More recent examples include the controversial ending of the Packers-Seahawks NFL game in September and North Carolina State's last-second touchdown to beat Florida State last weekend.

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Deskalo produced one similar video while working on an E:60 production for ESPN a couple years ago, which planted the seed for UNITE's social highlights. Today, however, there are few if any other examples of networks consistently producing installments that combine professionally edited broadcast highlights with fan-sourced video.

The social highlights air on UNITE weekly, then go up on YouTube if ESPNU has rights to the broadcast clips used. Some have even made their way on to ESPN and ESPN2. UNITE producers scour YouTube for fan video then incorporate between five and 10 into each highlight after obtaining permission from the amateur shooters.

While the resulting clips currently air primarily on a late-night show on a station that few but the most hardcore sports fans regularly watch, it's not hard to imagine similar highlight packages becoming more mainstream sooner than later.

"People are going to to able to film at these games more and more, and if we can find a way to get them to us, we'll be able to find new ways to tell these stories," Deskalo says. "We're not there just yet, but I think in the next couple years we'll start to see more social video elements in regular highlights."

Would you like to see this trend catch on -- or do you prefer the traditional highlight format? Give us your take in the comments.

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This story originally published on Mashable here.