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ESPN programming VP Julie Sobieski on new strategy for Baseball Tonight

(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

On the eve of ESPN’s 27th season of Major League Baseball coverage, ESPN is more committed to documenting the sport than ever. And, Baseball Tonight continues to be a vibrant force within ESPN’s overall content landscape.

For all of our properties, we constantly reevaluate them in order to serve the fan in the best possible way. With that said, we are rolling out a new programming strategy for Baseball Tonight – one that matches our overall new approach to covering baseball. We’ll do so in the following ways:

  • Focus on creating a “big-game feel” around our regular weekly game nights – Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays – by airing pregame and postgame editions of Baseball Tonight.
  • Present daily Baseball Tonight programming surrounding previously identified tent-pole periods of the season, including, Opening week, Holiday Baseball, MLB All-Star, Postseason Impact Games (final two weeks of the season), and the MLB Postseason.
  • Roll out our most comprehensive content plan for Baseball Tonight to date, which will continue to incorporate fantasy, prospects and analytics discussions to its already stellar news coverage. This will be enhanced by one of our most talented, diverse rosters of MLB commentators that we’ve ever had.

Recently, we’ve established a new Baseball Tonight platform – Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown – an on-site pre-game show preceding the national game of the week on Sunday Night Baseball. We’re also expanding the show’s reach by taking it on the road to the Little League World Series and, for the first time this year, to the College World Series. We’ve established a new Baseball Tonight podcast.

Our new Baseball Tonight strategy directly correlates to our current, overall MLB strategy. We’re reimagining the way we cover baseball, while providing new ways for fans to consume the sport, with a focus on technology, digital, fantasy and new production approaches.

In the past year alone we have launched K-Zone Live – and this year we’re enhancing it again – we’ve established new production initiatives like Sundays from the Seats and The Shift, and we’ve made groundbreaking moves like naming Jessica Mendoza, the first female analyst to call a nationally-televised MLB Postseason game, to Sunday Night Baseball. She will join Aaron Boone, a tremendous talent with an well-documented and respected family lineage in the sport. Together with Dan Shulman as the voice, and Buster Olney as the reporter, we have an incredible team.

Major League Baseball continues to be a focus for SportsCenter and our news and information programming, as well as our digital efforts. For the first time, we’re staffing every single Opening Day game with an MLB reporter this season and have hired three new reporters during the offseason.

We’re proud of our coverage of the historic Tampa Bay Rays game in Cuba this March, and we look forward to other pillar games, like our Roberto Clemente Day telecast from San Juan in May, and our July 3 Independence Day weekend telecast from Ft. Bragg.

Opening Day is finally upon us. One of the best days on the sports calendar each year. Enjoy the 2016 MLB season on ESPN!

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