ESPN held their Upfront in New York today, selling advertisers on the network and announcing new programming and initiatives in a glitzy display full of pomp and circumstance. We'll have a full recap of all the developments and announcements tomorrow, but perhaps the most interesting news from the upfront was the revelation of a new studio show on ESPN2 entirely dedicated to world soccer.
ESPN will be bringing their ESPNFC online brand to television with a 30 minute highlights and news show running Sunday-Thursday on ESPN2 and launching August 11th. A timeslot was not officially revealed, but hopefully it will be given a decent spot in ESPN's mid-afternoon lineup alongside the NFL Lives and College Football Lives of the world. Here's more highlights about ESPNFC's move to TV from the ESPN release…
A daily destination show that will offer U.S. fans “need-to-know” soccer news and information from across the globe;
Employ ESPN FC’s global reporters, columnists and team bloggers for breaking news, rumors and player-transfer news, focusing primarily on the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Spain’s La Liga, Major League Soccer, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and the Mexican National Team;
In-depth analysis and opinion-based discussion of topical issues in soccer featuring a rotation of seasoned pundits with diverse perspectives;
Interviews with newsmakers, and timely features and profiles of key personalities in the sport;
Previews of key matches throughout the soccer calendar year (eg. El Clásico, Manchester Derby, top-tier UEFA Champions League matchups, select FIFA World Cup qualifying matchups such as USA vs. Mexico, and more).
One of the key stories I've been interested in regarding ESPN is how their commitment to global soccer would continue to evolve after losing the World Cup to Fox starting in 2015 and the EPL to NBC starting next year. Readers of this site will know the high regard in which we hold ESPN's soccer coverage and the history at ESPN towards ignoring sports they don't have major rights to (ahem, hockey, ahem).
The advent of ESPNFC is a tremendous statement by the network that they will continue to commit a small part of their neverending resources to covering the world game, even though they don't own the rights to the top global soccer events. That's an unusual and encouraging step for ESPN. Bristol's soccer coverage is top class and a daily presence on their network is a big win for soccer fans who will see Fox Soccer soon fall by the wayside. Perhaps ESPNFC can provide that daily alternative to viewers looking for a news and highlights show dedicated to soccer.