Beginning with the Super Bowl on Sunday, it’s going to be a memorable 24 hours for sports fans and ESPN staff alike. We plan to showcase a series of milestone events and new initiatives that reflect a combination of utilizing resources to ensure continued growth, forward-thinking, technological innovation and creativity.
Super Bowl week is always one of the best examples of the distinctive, compelling collection of content ESPN entities can offer, and this year is no exception. Yet it’s the game itself that will begin a monumental stretch for us.
For the first time ever, ESPN Deportes will televise the Super Bowl (6 p.m. ET) as the Spanish-language home for the game in the United States. This is a remarkable development (a result of an agreement we reached with CBS and the NFL), one that fits perfectly with ESPN’s continued focus on aggressively serving Hispanic sports fans. ESPN Deportes’ Monday Night Football commentator team of Alvaro Martin, former Super Bowl champion Raul Allegre, and sideline reporter John Sutcliffe will call the game.
Bolstered by the new Super Bowl programming commitment, our affiliate team just this week worked with DISH to deliver ESPN Deportes in HD to DishLATINO customers. In addition, Cox Communications will offer a free preview of the network in HD to their subscribers nationwide and there will be new distribution for ESPN Deportes HD in several different cable systems across the country. This will continue the momentum for our Spanish-language network and enhance the viewing experience across its significant reach. Additionally, ESPN Deportes Radio, our Spanish-language sports radio network, will broadcast the Super Bowl for the third consecutive year.
Monday morning, sports fans will enjoy a whole new experience as they interact with our daily franchises on both ESPN and ESPN2. Our flagship, SportsCenter, will begin an ambitious plan to start live shows two hours earlier each weekday when we debut a new 7 a.m. edition, SportsCenter:AM on ESPN. Along with that, we will be strengthening our overall daytime SportsCenter approach by recognizing the varying needs of consumers at different times of day and producing each show accordingly.
The new 7 a.m. SportsCenter commentator team of Jay Harris, Kevin Negandhi, Jaymee Sire and contributor Sarina Morales brings great talent, energy and diverse perspectives to our morning audience. The rest of the day will carry on that same level of excellence with the likes of Hannah Storm, Toni Collins, Chris McKendry, Jay Crawford, Cari Champion, David Lloyd and Reese Waters.
Over on ESPN2, fans can also expect an enhanced experience the morning after the Super Bowl, beginning with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike (6-10 a.m.) hosted by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. The show will introduce a new look and feel, driven by a dynamic new set with technological enhancements that provide for greater interactivity, social content and immediacy. Mike & Mike will also unveil a new theme song that day.
Also starting Monday, Molly Qerim will help us bridge our two ESPN2 live morning staples by joining Mike & Mike during the last two hours (8-10 a.m.) before assuming her continuing role as moderator of First Take (10 a.m.-Noon). As a result, each day she will help end the Mike & Mike program by facilitating an interaction between the Mikes and First Take mainstays Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, establishing a great transition for viewers from one show to the other.
An exclusive and significant live event – ESPN’s bread-and-butter – will punctuate the day. At 7 p.m., ESPN2 will present a matchup of the nation’s top two women’s basketball teams – No. 1 Connecticut at No. 2 South Carolina. To add to the excitement, both ESPN’s SportsCenter and SEC Network’s The Paul Finebaum Show will have a live, on-site presence in Columbia, S.C., leading into the matchup.