Although it seems like a lifetime ago in blog years, ESPN announced a couple new shows at their upfront presentation in New York City back in May. One was a new insider-centric NFL studio show and another was a new concept – a daily soccer show. We now know the times and channels for those shows as well as some other shuffles to the ESPN lineup beginning next month and into football season. The new weekday lineup launches August 5th while ESPN will switch to its NFL Sunday schedule on September 8th. Details below…
* On the mothership, NFL Insiders with Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen will air at 3 ET and run for an hour. Directly after that will be an hour long episode of NFL Live at 4 ET and then Around the Horn and PTI. ESPN's lineup was desperately needing some more time to commit to the NFL, so thankfully this new two hour block will fill that gap! In all seriousness though, I'm curious to see how the insiders show will work out and if they can differentiate the two shows. That'll be crucial.
* ESPN2 is fittingly enough the land of duos, odd couples, and debate partners. After four hours of First Take (yuck), Skippy and Stephen A. give way to Jalen Rose and Hugh Douglas as Numbers Never Lie (that's the show that's definitely not about numbers) expands to an hour from 2-3 ET while SportsNation moves to 3-4 ET with new hosts Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley. Highly Questionable airs at 4 ET with Bomani & the Le Batards and OTL moves to the deuce at 4:30 ET. If there's one show that's getting forgotten in all this it's College Football Live, which will air weekdays at 5 ET on ESPN2.
* The newbie I'm most interested in, ESPNFC, gets a decent daily timeslot at 5:30 ET on ESPN2 although it will get stiff competition from PTI. FC will not only air Monday-Friday, but also Sundays at midnight, which could end up being a nice weekend recap show for soccer fans with the demise of Fox Soccer. As we stated back in May, this is a hugely refreshing move given the network has cast aside sports like soccer when they've lost rights in the past (ahem… hockey… ahem). ESPN's continuing commitment to global soccer is a great thing because it's Bristol at its best. Hopefully the quality of ESPNFC permeates throughout the rest of ESPN2's lineup. We can only hope.
*As far as Sundays go, not too much has changed with the ESPN staples of SportsCenter and NFL Countdown dominating the morning. OTL and Sports Reporters air at 8 and 8:30 ET on ESPN2 with Colin Cowherd's new football show on from 9-10 ET (what joy) followed by an hour of SC and the acclaimed Fantasy Football Now beginning at 11 ET.
All in all, this lineup is about one thing – football. ESPN usually goes all football all the time in the fall, but in 2013 it'll be pushed to the limits more than ever. If you ever needed more proof of the NFL's dominance over all of sports this is it. ESPN will spend multiple hours every day on NFL-centric programming and that doesn't include the hours of the debate/panel/discussion/news shows that will be shield heavy as well.
If you're looking for some news about the pennant chase, best to check out the offerings on MLB Network.