Sunday, May 25, 2008
New ESPN Network May Be A Reality
Over at The AOL Fanhouse, the soccer guys were buzzing about the potential for ESPN to acquire some additional high-profile soccer for 2009. As NASCAR fans continue to growse about the problems with non-televised Cup practice and Nationwide broadcasts, one answer from ESPN's own Soccer columnist was certainly interesting.
Here is it below, and here is the full link.
About a year and a half ago, ESPN announced that it was shutting down production on original programming for ESPN Classic. Since then, the network has shown everything from old American Gladiators reruns to run-off programming from the other ESPN networks, and everyone has been scratching their head wondering what would happen to ESPN Classic.
ESPN Soccernet columnist Ives Galarcep, who keeps his own blog at SoccerByIves.net, may have leaked the Worldwide Leader's plans for its least-watched channel.
"The word I just got from a source at ESPN is that ... ESPN has big plans for expanding ESPN Classic into potentially an ESPN3, with the English Premier League as one of the station's marquee draws. That whole scenario may wind up being wishful thinking but what is clear is the ESPN is interested in the EPL rights," said Galarcep.
Still, this begs the question of what kind of channel ESPN3 might become. Would it become an ESPN Soccer Channel of sorts to compete with Fox Soccer Channel? Would it have a more general focus on international sports? (Anything that brings Aussie Rules back to ESPN is okay by me.) Or would it just blend in with ESPN and ESPN2 to allow more events in all sports to be shown on basic cable and satellite TV?
The Daly Planet first raised this issue back in June of 2007 with this column addressing the obvious concerns about NASCAR's Fall races conflicting with other ESPN and ABC programming. In fact, both ESPN and ABC had a mess on their hands with all kinds of logistical issues. From ABC local stations leaving live races for regular newscasts to college football games pushing the Nationwide Series all over the ESPN dial, things were not good.
It was only a short time ago that NASCAR actually had to call on SPEED to telecast one of ESPN's own Nationwide Series races because of programming conflicts. Here is the column about that issue. ESPN had tried to move the race over to, you guessed it, ESPN Classic. That was a "no sale" with NASCAR and SPEED stepped-in and actually carried the entire ESPN broadcast of the race complete with ESPN announcers and graphics.
The bottom line is that there is plenty of product on the ESPN table to fill additional network time. Between soccer and NASCAR, two very hardcore audiences would welcome an opportunity to see live product uninterrupted and additional re-airing of games and races. The ESPN Classic offerings of old NASCAR races from the ESPN Speedworld days are fantastic.
Here we are in May, with a full schedule of college football once again about to push Cup practices and happy hour off-the-dial or to tape delay come September. Those same football games will no doubt have the Nationwide Series hopping around the ESPN Networks like the Energizer Bunny.
In one way, it is nice that ESPN has an opportunity to have ten pounds of programming in its bag for 2009. Now, the executives just have to figure out how to make their networks hold more than five pounds at a time. As the re-runs of Stump the Schwab and American Gladiators roll-by, all eyes are on ESPN Classic.
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