ABC, ESPN Playing It Both Ways

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Last Saturday, you might have seen ESPN air live snippets of several college-football games that were supposed to be airing exclusively on ABC. You weren’t imagining things.

Last week, the ABC affiliate board granted permission (requested by ABC) for ESPN to show live coverage of up to two plays from each of ABC’s regional college-football games. ESPN has been doing this for a while with its own regional games, as well as with those of a few regional sports networks.

The pitch to the affiliates is that the coverage is a sports update for ESPN’s audience but might also work as a promo piece to get some ESPN watchers to flip over to ABC.

At least one ABC affiliate was doubtful of the promo benefits, saying, "If I’m a Michigan fan, I’m already watching that game."

ABC affiliate board chairman Deb McDermott has an open mind about it. "It’s promotion, not really a repurposing," she said.

The affiliates and network will decide about continuing the snippet-swiping this week after viewing the results for one week.

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