Behind The Scenes

ESPN sports live event bonanza for the holidays and beyond

Busy season for ESPN Events

Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling, Burke Magnus, on ESPN Events: “ESPN’s commitment to sports goes beyond just traditional coverage. One area of our programming department focuses on staging sporting events that are featured on various entities under the Charlotte-based “ESPN Events” banner. Fittingly, it’s also that group’s busiest time of year.


In fact, since Nov. 1, ESPN Events has staged 23 owned-and-operated events, accounting for 84 games and 183 hours of programming on ESPN’s family of networks. Highlights include 13 bowl games, the Champions Classic (men’s college basketball), Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Basketball Classics and the College Football Awards Show.”

There is nothing quite like sports event programming in all of entertainment. It is live, in the moment, socially and culturally relevant, and consistently gathers large passionate audiences.

Our programming strategy has long centered on acquiring the broadest and most valuable collection of long-term rights, and utilizing them strategically across ESPN’s platforms to aggressively serve fans.

Over the next couple weeks, ESPN’s stretch of programming offers a great snapshot of that strategy at work. We have some of the biggest sporting events on the calendar, and many of the best teams going head-to-head, which makes for appointment viewing for sports fans.

Consider tonight’s in-state rivalry matchup on ESPN between men’s college basketball heavyweights – Kentucky and Louisville – both led by Hall of Fame coaches (John Calipari and Rick Pitino) and both ranked in the top 10.

Speaking of Hall of Fame coaches, UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma will lead his No.1-ranked Huskies at No. 4 Maryland in a tough road test on Dec. 29 on ESPN2. UConn potentially could be going for its 87th consecutive win that night.

The NBA on Christmas annually has featured some of the season’s most anticipated matchups and this year’s lineup does not disappoint. An NBA Finals rematch between Golden State and Cleveland on ABC highlights our five-game schedule.

College football is front and center at this time of year and the scope and quality of ESPN’s offerings are exceptional. We are in the midst of a 38-game bowl schedule, which anchors what annually has become ESPN’s highest-rated weeks of the year.

The third year of the College Football Playoff is exclusively on ESPN once again. The exciting matchups in the College Football Playoff Semifinals lead a strong collection of New Year’s Six Bowl Games and the season culminates with ESPN’s Megacast coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship Jan. 9.

Another football champion will be crowned on our networks earlier that week when ESPN2 presents the NCAA FCS Football Championship between Youngstown State and James Madison Jan. 7.

By the way, if you are like me and count the days until the start of the next college football season, the day after the CFP title game, we will help you shift gears with another elite men’s basketball tilt – No. 4 Baylor at No. 11 West Virginia on ESPN2.

For those seeking a lighter form of competition, we offer the live Rose Parade on ABC (Jan. 2), a beloved companion to our coverage of the “Granddaddy of the Them All” – the Rose Bowl Game. Additionally, the next generation of college stars will be on full display Jan. 1 as part of the high school Under Armour All-America Game on ESPN.

Our Monday Night Football season is punctuated by Detroit at Dallas – a gem of a matchup featuring division leaders vying for playoff positioning (Dec. 26). Two weeks later, we are once again extremely proud to offer an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game (date, time and teams TBD).

As always, we supplement our extraordinary event schedule with the most in-depth coverage from multiple ESPN studio programming franchises before, during and after each game. Among those, SportsCenter will have a consistent on-site presence at many of these big events to provide breaking news, highlights, analysis and perspective. Also, don’t forget that the numerous topics related to these events will be debated on a new network starting Jan. 3 when First Take moves to ESPN.

All of the games can be streamed on numerous devices via the WatchESPN app, providing the flexibility and portability many of us need, particularly around the holidays.

It’s a wonderful time to be a sports fan. Thanks to an unrivaled collection of top events, ESPN has you covered. Happy Holidays!

Upcoming Event Programming Highlights On ESPN Platforms

Wednesday, Dec. 21 7 p.m. ETHoliday Hoops presented by Zales (men’s basketball): #6 Kentucky at #10 LouisvilleESPN
Sunday, Dec. 25 2:30 p.m. ETNBA Christmas Day: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland CavaliersABC
Monday, Dec. 26 8:15 p.m. ETMonday Night Football: Detroit Lions at Dallas CowboysESPN
Thursday, Dec. 296 p.m. ETWomen’s College Basketball: #1 Connecticut at #4 MarylandESPN2
Friday, Dec. 308 p.m. ETCapital One Orange Bowl: #6 Michigan vs. #11 Florida StateESPN
Saturday, Dec. 313 p.m. ETCollege Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: #4 Washington vs. #1 AlabamaESPN
Saturday, Dec. 317 p.m. ETCollege Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: #3 Ohio State vs. #2 ClemsonESPN
Sunday, Jan. 11 p.m. ETHigh School Football: Under Armour All-America GameESPN
Monday, Jan. 211 a.m. ETThe 2017 Rose Parade presented by HondaABC
Monday, Jan. 21 p.m. ETGoodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #15 Western Michigan vs. #8 WisconsinESPN
Monday, Jan. 25 p.m. ETRose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: #9 USC vs. #5 Penn StateESPN
Monday, Jan. 28:30 p.m ETAllstate Sugar Bowl: #14 Auburn vs. #7 OklahomaESPN
Saturday, Jan. 712 p.m. ETNCAA FCS Football Championship presented by Northwestern Mutual: Youngstown State vs. James MadisonESPN2
Sat/Sun., Jan 7 or 8 TBDNFL Wildcard Playoff Game: Teams TBDESPN/ABC
Monday, Jan. 98 p.m. ETCollege Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&TESPN
Tuesday, Jan. 107 p.m. ETMen’s College Basketball: #4 Baylor at #11 West VirginiaESPN2
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