ESPN Synergistic on New Programming

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ESPN’s latest original movie Ruffian, which focuses on horse racing, will debut on ABC in June 2007 in conjunction with the airing of the Belmont Stakes horserace.The network announced Thursday it has greenlighted the production, which is based on a racehorse hailed as one of the great thoroughbred fillies of all time.

“This will not be the last time this happens,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive VP of content, of ESPN original programming getting an initial launch on sister network ABC.

After the ABC debut, the movie will then get a widespread play across ESPN’s media assets within four days, including on ESPN in prime time, over the Internet via ESPN360, in high-definition on ESPN HD, and on video-on-demand via ESPN On Demand.

The movie will also be released with bonus content on DVD, and ESPN will make additional content available via the Web and its new Mobile ESPN service.

ESPN also announced premiere dates for the following shows in development: a second season of The Contender will debut July 18; KnightSchool, in which players compete for a walk-on spot on Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech basketball team, debuts Feb. 19; The 2005 NPPL National Championship of paintball airs April 10; a second season of Battle of the Gridiron Stars launches April 11; The World Series of Darts, from Michael Davies of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and Wife Swap, bows in July.