On September 26, ESPN will break new ground in mainstream sports media, when it debuts Nación ESPN, an hourlong weekly show geared toward Latino sports fans.
The show will be hosted by Los Angeles radio Jorge Sedano, boxing reporter Bernardo Osuna and ESPN Deportes baseball writer Marly Rivera. English will be the primary language, but guests will have the option to speak in Spanish.
Per ESPN, Nación ESPN will fuse SportsNation with ESPN Deportes’ Nación ESPN. Via a press release:
“Adding Jorge, Marly and Bernardo to existing voices we have on His and Hers, First Take and Highly Questionable strengthens our commitment to better serve a diverse sports fan base while also generating opportunities for advertisers with a total market approach,” said Freddy Rolón, vice president and general manager of ESPN Deportes. “Nación ESPN will speak to the audience in a way that resonates with their evolving multicultural lifestyles and interests.”
This show presents an interesting opportunity for ESPN to capitalize on the vast world of bilingual and multicultural Latin-Americans. According to the Los Angeles Times, the show will be tailored toward viewers, especially in younger demographics, who watch television in both English and Spanish.
Both English and Spanish are spoken in 79% of Latino households. Recent studies have shown that U.S.-born Latinos, especially in the millennial age group of 18 to 35, routinely alternate between Spanish-language and English-language programming.
“Their consumption trends are to pick and choose language both on personal preference, authenticity and which one gives them the most information,” said Freddy Rolón, vice president and general manager of ESPN Deportes. “We see them going between ESPN and ESPN Deportes. We see a potential for growth with them.”
For all the things you can criticize ESPN for, you can’t knock them about their commitment to diversity both in who’s producing the content and in whom that content is intended for. While other networks have doubled down on mostly white guys with social views that appeal mostly to white guys, ESPN has launched The Undefeated, stocked its talk-show lineup with women and people of color and now announced a program featuring Latino people speaking to an intended audience of Latino people.
Obviously there’s room to improve in Bristol, and on-air diversity isn’t the only barometer of an inclusive network, but ESPN deserves some kudos here. Hopefully Nación ESPN paves the way for other bilingual sports shows like it.