ESPN: Embraces Fans, New Tech

Sets nightly ESPNU show and ‘Year of the Quarterback' slate 5/24/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

In an embrace of social media
and new technology, ESPN gave
the ball to Michelle Beadle and
Colin Cowherd, hosts of the social
media-savvy SportsNation, to
anchor this year’s upfront pitch
at the Nokia Theatre in New York.
The move marked a departure
from the sports media giant’s
SportsCenter theme, the signature
show that anchored ESPN’s
upfront pitch the last two years.

“Technology is clearly changing
our business,” said Ed
Erhardt, president of customer
marketing and sales. “Some see
it as a potential threat. We see it
as a chance to lead.”

The network touched on stalwart
programs like Monday Night
and its critically acclaimed
30 for 30 documentary series, but
mostly focused on new initiatives
like the launch of ESPN 3D and a
new signature show for college
sports network ESPNU.

The 3D technology push takes
off in June, when ESPN 3D, which
has distribution agreements in
place with Comcast and DirecTV,
features 25 matches from the
2010 FIFA World Cup.

The network also
announced social
media-driven U:Nite,
a nightly show starting
in spring 2011
on ESPNU which will explore
sports and pop culture.

ESPN is also making a play
toward high school sports with
ESPN RISE, a brand targeting high
school athletes.

MNF analyst John Gruden introduced
“Year of the Quarterback”
programming, where the most
celebrated position in American
sports will be analyzed in 2011.

ESPN Deportes announced it
will launch in the first quarter
of 2011 Nacion ESPN, a Spanish-
language sports TV show
fueled by fan interaction
and modeled after

In the mobile sphere,
ESPN is preparing
launches of apps for its ESPN
Local brand. Dallas will be the first
market to launch. As Erhardt said:
“We’re focused on what’s next.”

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