ABC to Debut ‘ESPN Sports Saturday’ Programming Block Beginning April 3

ESPN Sports Saturday on ABCESPN Sports Saturday, a new block of sports programming on ABC, will launch Saturday, April 3, from 4-6 p.m. ET, it was announced by John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. The two-hour window will consist of a new 60-minute, highlight-driven series titled Winners Bracket and a mix of some of ESPN’s most distinctive offerings, including films from the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series, episodes of ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine E:60 and installments of the interview-focused Homecoming with Rick Reilly.

ESPN Sports Saturday will generally be featured Saturdays from 4-6 p.m., from April through mid-August, and will return for another round of shows December through August 2011. For certain weeks, as the schedule dictates, ESPN Sports Saturday may be less than two hours.

ESPN Sports Saturday is a creative way to mix more high quality sports product with ABC’s strong live event lineup,” Skipper said. “Winners Bracket will review the sports week using a fresh and fun approach, while some of the very best ESPN series will provide an extremely compelling companion.”

Bill Hoffman, vice president, general manager, WSB-TV in Atlanta and the chair of the sports committee for the ABC Affiliate Board of Governors commented, “We are excited about this brand new sports offering from such a trusted brand. This program comes as a result of great creative thinking and collaboration between the ABC Board and ESPN.”

ESPN Sports Saturday
The two-hour block, anchored by ESPN SportsCenter’s Hannah Storm, will generally begin with a 60-minute episode of one of the three ESPN series followed by the hour long Winners Bracket.  Storm will guide viewers throughout, with comments from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios. Additionally, during the last portion of the block, local ABC affiliates will have the opportunity to insert a short, local update to promote upcoming programming.

For the first two weeks of ESPN Sports Saturday, new episodes of different ESPN shows will make their debut in the block’s first hour. Coinciding with the start of the NCAA Men’s Final Four on April 3, the television debut of the 30 for 30 film, Guru of Go, a documentary about the incredible run of Loyola Marymount’s men’s basketball team and the tragic death of star Hank Gathers, will be followed by Winners Bracket. The following week (April 10) – the first full weekend of the MLB season — a new episode of Homecoming with Rick Reilly featuring Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer will lead into Winners Bracket.

Winners Bracket
This new, 60-minute series, hosted from Bristol, Conn., by ESPN SportsNation co-host Michelle Beadle and ESPN contributor and former NFL star Marcellus Wiley, will debate and recap the week in sports in a bracket-style format. Frequent appearances and perspective from ESPN’s experts in various sports will be a regular part of the show. Each episode will include highlights, analysis and discussion of the biggest newsmakers and stories from the world of sports, culminating with the determination of the bracket champion.

From great performances to record-setting moments to unforgettable quotes, the 16 biggest newsmakers of the week will be pitted against each other in seeded brackets. For each round, the debate will be framed through highlights, comments from ESPN analysts and perspective from the hosts.

Other elements planned for Winners Bracket include such segments as a collection of sound bytes from athletes and coaches, a taste of that week in sports history, a countdown of the 20 “lowlights” from the week and a look at athletes whom fans would have expected to see in the bracket but missed.

30 for 30, E:60, Homecoming with Rick Reilly
Inspired by ESPN’s 30th anniversary in 2009, ESPN Films launched 30 for 30, an unprecedented documentary series featuring 30 of today’s finest storytellers who chronicle 30 remarkable stories from the ESPN era. Each storyteller brings his or her passion and point of view to a film detailing the issues and events that transformed the sports landscape since 1979.

E:60 is ESPN’s first multi-subject, prime-time news magazine program offering a combination of investigative features, profiles of intriguing sports personalities and cutting edge stories on innovation in the sports world, including emerging sports and new technology.  The series focuses on life stories that relate or have a basis in sports, melding its stories with a glimpse of the reporters’ experiences – discussing the story idea with producers, creating storylines and shooting the interviews.  By turning the camera on the story subjects and reporters, the program gives the viewer a unique behind-the-scenes look at television storytelling.

Homecoming with Rick Reilly challenges that old adage, “You can’t go home again.”  Hosted by 11-time Sportswriter of the Year Rick Reilly, the show features a one-on-one interview with a prominent athlete. Reilly brings his unique style of storytelling to the series set in the athletes’ hometown or formative place surrounded by friends and family the athlete has known throughout his or her life.

ESPN on ABC Programming
In addition to the new ESPN Sports Saturday, ESPN on ABC offers a variety of top quality live event programming. Among the offerings are NBA regular-season games, playoffs, and The Finals; World Cup soccer; NASCAR Sprint Cup; the Indianapolis 500; the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and championship; Belmont Stakes; Little League World Series; and Saturday Night Football, the only weekly prime-time college football series on broadcast television.

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