The Onion's SportsDome Isn't Parodying SportsCenter, It's Competing With It

The Onion SportsDome

Photo: Brad Barket/ComedyCentral

On Tuesday, Comedy Central will unveil SportsDome, a satirical look at the overblown world of cable sports.There’s only problem: It’s almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

SportsDome is an offshoot of The Onion News Network, which is itself an offshoot of the long-running newspaper known for its fake headlines that are sometimes mistaken for real journalism.

Executive producer Will Graham explains that The Onion doesn’t think of ONN and OSN as “fake” networks, but its own TV universe with its own personality and style.

“We see them as a competitor. We’re trying to outdo them and eventually replace them.”

The hyper-serious and self-congratulatory tone of SportsDome doesn’t include laugh tracks or knowing winks at the camera, but does include pitch perfect line readings that would blend in perfectly with a real world newscast.

Part of ONN’s authenticity comes from hiring real news anchors who can perfectly match the tone and delivery of TV sports and news. For example, SportsDome correspondent “Melissa Wells” is played by former ESPN News anchor Danyelle Sargent.

They’ve also signed up real athletes, like Gary Payton, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Dhani Jones to serve as talking heads. Who better to skewer the world of sports than those who lived in it?

Finally, SportsDome isn’t just meant to riff on SportsCenter’s wacky catchphrases and explosive graphics, but will pull in ideas from all over the sports TV universe, like “Inside The Bench” (instead of documentary series “Outside The Lines”) and the Steam Room (much like ESPN’s old “Budweiser Hot Seat.”)

“Our long-term goal is to have 26 networks, just like ESPN,” says Graham.

Unlike The Daily Show, the news is still fake. There are no boxers with metal hands. Yet. Check out the show’s “Top 10 Stans in Sports” below.

“Onion SportsDome” premieres on Comedy Central January 11 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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