ESPN is canceling a near decade-long tradition later this fall. The network has revealed it will not be airing its customary 24-hour college basketball marathon to start the season. The day-through-night marathon had been a showcase for top games as well as programs who wouldn’t normally find themselves on ESPN’s national airwaves.
The reasoning for the cancelation from ESPN’s perspective makes enough sense. It’s logistically fairly challenging to pull off 24 consecutive hours of college hoops broadcasts.
Via the Sporting News:
Hopefully, college basketball fans won’t lose any sleep over this news: ESPN is abandoning its 24-Hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon for 2017.
There still will be games televised by the company’s various channels on Tuesday, Nov. 14, notably the Champions Classic doubleheader in Chicago matching Michigan State vs. Duke and Kentucky vs. Kansas. But the joy of watching a team like Winthrop playing Manhattan just as the workday begins will be no more.
ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz told Sporting News the Marathon “presented some programming challenges and will not be part of our schedule this season.”
Krulewitz stressed ESPN will be introducing the gargantuan PK80 tournament — a 16-team event Nov. 23-26 honoring the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight — as well as televising more than 3,500 games this season on the network’s cable channels and online streaming services.
While the 24-hour marathon was a pretty fun gimmick and a unique way to kick off the basketball season, this is probably a shrewd decision from the network. It’s not like ESPN is devoid of noteworthy basketball games in the fall with so many early-season tournaments now dotting the college basketball landscape.
Additionally, you have to be some kind of devoted hardcore basketball fan or suffer from a serious case of narcolepsy to be watching college basketball games at 2:30 AM or 5 AM. I’m sure that wasn’t the easiest thing for the programs and fans that had those early morning games and it might be a relief to not have to worry about that scheduling.
Thank goodness Washington football coach Chris Petersen doesn’t have to deal with that….