ESPN will present live coverage of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals from Washington, D.C., beginning with the preliminary rounds Wednesday, June 1, at 8 a.m. ET, on ESPN3.com, through the semifinals and finals Thursday, June 2, on ESPN and ESPN3.com. Every speller on the stage will be featured on an ESPN network. This is ESPN’s 18th straight year of televising the Spelling Bee Finals.
SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele returns for the second straight year as host of the Spelling Bee Finals on ESPN. Paul A. Loeffler, a former Bee finalist who represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star in the 1990 National Spelling Bee finals and made it up to the top 13 spellers, returns as the word analyst. Rob Stone, who has worked a variety of ESPN events such as the FIFA World Cup, college sports, bowling and Major League Soccer, will serve as reporter. Steele, Loeffler and Stone will provide television commentary for the Spelling Bee Finals Thursday at 10 a.m., during the semifinal rounds, and the finals at 8:30 p.m.
The preliminary rounds will be featured exclusively on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s sports broadband network available in 70 million homes, on Wednesday, June 1. Throughout the entire competition, ESPN3.com will carry a second “play along” version, featuring the option to view its coverage without graphics for fans at home to test their knowledge against the champion spellers.
The National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest running educational promotion, is administered on a not-for-profit basis by the E.W. Scripps Company and 270 local sponsors. The majority of local spelling bee sponsors are daily and weekly newspapers. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.
The 2011 Spelling Bee Finals will feature 275 champion spellers, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Spellers participating in the national competition qualify by winning locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities representing the 50 U.S. states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; and the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
For more information and real-time results for all segments of competition are provided via the Internet at the Bee’s official website, www.spellingbee.com.
Inside the 2011 National Spelling Bee numbers . . .
- 1 – eight-year-old in the Finals, youngest in the competition: Ethan Cullen Ruggeri, Fredericksburg, Va.
- 2 – 2010 championship finalists – Laura Newcombe of Toronto, Ontario, and Joanna Ye, Harrisburg, Pa. – are among the 275 finalists this year
- 3 – four-year repeaters: Rahul Malayappan, Danbury, Conn.; Nicholas B. Rushlow, Pickerington, Ohio; and Julianna M. Canabal-Rodríguez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
- 6 – fourth graders in the finals
- 7 – finalists who have twins
- 10 – finalists who attend charter schools
- 16 – finalists who attend parochial schools
- 17 – three-year repeaters
- 51 – two-year repeaters
- 138 – boys in the finals (137 girls)
- 179 – finalists who attend public schools
- 230 – finalists coached by parents and family members
Bloomberg is reporting that ESPN has decided to remove all advertisements and poker coverage events from its networks ‘pending further review’ in response to indictments against several online gambling websites, many of whom sponsor major poker events.
Although ESPN is apparently not involved in the investigation in any way, they have decided to distance themselves from the accused which includes sites such as Pokerstars.com, Fulltiltpoker.com, Absolutepoker.com, Ultimatebet.com and UB.com, all of which have been sized by the U.S. Government.
In total, 76 bank accounts have been frozen, preventing players from accessing any money they may have invested in the sites.
ESPN announced today its flagship network ESPN as well as ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com are now available to Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS TV subscribers via the new ‘WatchESPN’ App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, now available on the App Store.
In time for the early rounds of the Masters, the NBA Playoffs and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS TV subscribers who receive the linear networks as part of their video subscription can now watch the channels from the convenience of their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
“Innovation continues to drive ESPN,” said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. “When we launched in 1979, nobody envisioned a day when people would carry ESPN in their pockets. But here we are. And we’ve reached this watershed moment for the industry through tremendous collaboration with forward-thinking partners.”
The free WatchESPN App includes a simple user interface that takes the current online viewing experience to the high-resolution, Multi-Touch displays of iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Once a user downloads WatchESPN from the App Store, they will receive instructions to enter their cable subscriber credentials and access their favorite ESPN content on their device. A version of the application optimized for the Apple iPad will be available free to download in May.
Added Sean Bratches, executive vice president, sales and marketing for ESPN, “This represents the culmination of our efforts over the last five years. We strive to serve the sports fan wherever they consume sports, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than making our networks available to fans whenever and wherever they might be.”
The company first launched an online-accessible authenticated version of ESPN in October, 2010. Authenticated versions of ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line launched in January, 2011. Consumers can access the channels through a centralized website, ESPNnetworks.com.
The WatchESPN App is available for free from the iTunes App Store.
The App will be available on other smartphones and tablets in the near future.
Recognizing the expanding role of sports within the entertainment industry, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Full Sail University have finalized a unique partnership that enables the school to promote Full Sail’s sports curriculum to a global audience of sports enthusiasts, while offering youth athletes more possibilities to envision their sports dreams.
As part of this collaboration, Full Sail will be represented throughout ESPN Wide World of Sports including the complex’s Welcome Center, digital signs and promotional video packages. In addition, guests who are interested in learning more will be able to arrange a tour of Full Sail’s Winter Park campus from the sport complex.
“The sports industry is evolving incredibly rapidly, and it requires professionals who understand the dynamics of the new media landscape for all applications in business, both now and in the future,” said Josh Mora, program director of Sports Marketing and Media for Full Sail. “One area in which we can attract prospective students who will serve the industry is by focusing our efforts on those who have an inherent enthusiasm for sports. In that way, we can fuel their passion by exposing them to possible careers within the sports realm that they might not even know exists.”
This agreement follows the university’s recent launch of its new Sports Marketing and Media Bachelor of Science Degree Program. The 32-month curriculum, offered both on-campus and online, is designed to help students develop a balanced skill set of technical expertise and content creation. Students will also learn core business and marketing concepts as they apply to sports media, business models, sports marketing and research, public relations, sports law and contracts, and licensing and intellectual property.
“Sports dreams now come in all shapes and sizes,” said Faron Kelley, director of marketing and communication for Disney Sports Enterprises. “We hope that by exposing young athletes to Full Sail’s innovative curriculum, they will be able to realize their aspirations whether they’re on the ball field, in the classroom or behind a TV camera.”
Full Sail has recently collaborated with ESPN in launching a sportsbroadcast research lab at the university, complementing the current ESPN Innovation Lab located at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World. That lab has been critical in the development of ESPN 3D, Ball Track, NBA Player Card and Ultimate Uplink.
The new blog, to be updated daily, will be managed by the Communications department, and be a collaborative effort among the company’s key personnel — meaning it will feature a variety of voices, opinions, and insights. Topics will focus on ESPN news and people, the employee experience, behind-the-scenes activity and will serve as a platform to address select company issues that are making news. ESPNFrontRow.com will feature a comment-posting functionality to allow two-way communication.
Sheldon Spencer, a journalist with more than 25 years of experience, will serve as the site’s primary voice. Spencer, most recently an NFL editor for ESPN.com, working with NFL blogs, served as a staff writer for the National Sports Daily (1990-91), Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1991-96) and the San Jose Mercury News (1997-2000).
As a more informal and personal source of news and insights than a traditional website, ESPNFrontRow.com will engage readers with both personality and authority as a source of information, photos, video and more. The blog will feature posts that attempt to educate the consumer as well as entertain them.
Opening Day, ESPNFrontRow.com will launch with a collection of real time photos that depict “A Day in The Life” at ESPN.
“The goal for ESPNFrontRow.com is to provide fans a window into ESPN,” said Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president, communications, U.S. networks. “We will provide credible, relevant, informative and fun content that will take readers inside ESPN.”
Consumers will be able to access the site directly at www.espnfrontrow.com or via links on ESPN.com and ESPNMediazone.com home pages. Posts on the site will also be distributed via social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
In Beta Research Corp.’s 2010 Cable Operator Study, ESPN retained its number one status for the 11th consecutive year as the network with the most perceived value. ESPN2 placed second for the sixth straight year in this category with the Disney Channel in fourth and ESPNU tying with the NFL Network for seventh.
“From the depth of programming to the many platforms available for fans to consume content, the Disney and ESPN networks continue to help our affiliates drive their businesses,” said David C. Preschlack, executive vice president, Disney and ESPN Media Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. “To have four of our networks recognized in the top ten is an honor and we continue to look for new ways to innovative and provide value to our affiliate partners.”
Disney and ESPN Networks received the following high marks from cable operators:
- ESPN and ESPN2 ranked first and second in perceived value; Disney Channel placed fourth and ESPNU placed seventh
- For the seventh consecutive year, ESPN was considered most important network in their cable system and the most effective network in selling broadband or interactive television services.
- ESPN also ranked number one in most helpful with high definition programming best overall marketing services, and most helpful in driving VOD or SVOD efforts.
As a basic network organization, the Disney and ESPN Media Networks also ranked first in many categories including:
- Providing best overall marketing services;
- Most effective in selling broadband/high-speed internet, HDTV, and/or VOD
- Most visited affiliate web site
The telephone survey was conducted in August – October 2010 among general managers and/or marketing directors and VPs of individual cable systems. The study determines perceived value of networks to cable systems; importance of networks to cable systems; unaided mentions for networks’ levels of marketing support, broadband, iTV, HDTV and VOD efforts.
As part of a wide-ranging agreement between the Walt Disney Company and Verizon, FiOS TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater live online beginning today. To access the online programming, Verizon customers must subscribe to FiOS TV.
The online rights to the ESPN networks are part of a broader agreement, which also includes the full suite of cable services from the Walt Disney Company: ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD and the soon-to-be-launched Disney Junior, as well as retransmission consent for local ABC broadcast stations.
“Expanding our online video content to include the ESPN networks provides our FiOS customers with some of the best in sports programming, right at their fingertips,” said Terry Denson, vice president of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. “Whether watching FiOS on your TV, PC or mobile device, Verizon continues to make it easy for customers to view a growing amount of programming while on the go.”
Added David Preschlack, executive vice president, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, “Offering our live networks online further demonstrates our commitment to serving sports fans, and we couldn’t do it without the cooperation of forward-thinking distributors like Verizon FiOS. From today forward, FiOS TV customers can choose to watch ESPN on their big screen or on their computer screen – it’s a real sea change in our business and an indication of where our industry is heading.”
FiOS TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater live on their personal computers or laptops – at home or away – using any broadband connection. Buzzer Beater, which features live cut-ins and highlights from numerous top college basketball games during each Wednesday and Saturday of the college basketball season, is normally only available to FiOS TV customers who subscribe to the Extreme HD or Ultimate HD TV packages but currently will be accessible to Prime TV package customers through a free preview. ESPN Goal Line, a similar service for college football season, will become available for online viewing when football season begins in September for FiOS TV customers subscribing to the Extreme HD or Ultimate HD packages.
Users will have several viewing options for the channels, including picture-in-picture, simultaneous viewing of more than one channel, and full-screen viewing of a single channel. Verizon and ESPN plan to make the programming available on other Internet enabled devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, in the near future.
ESPN Radio iPhone App Adds Host of New Enhancements Including Personalization and Geolocation Support
ESPN today unveiled ESPN Radio 3.0, its newest and most personalized iPhone app to date. The new version of the app, sponsored by 1-800-Flowers.com, continues to provide millions of ESPN Radio listeners access to live, crystal clear radio streams from more than 20 ESPN Radio stations – including fan favorite ESPN Radio network shows Mike & Mike in the Morning, The Herd with Colin Cowherd and more – the latest SportsCenter updates every 20 minutes; popular podcasts like the B.S. Report with Bill Simmons; select play-by-play broadcasts, including the college football Bowl Championship Series; and live scores, newsfeeds and text messaging directly to ESPN Radio and ESPN affiliate stations. ESPN Radio 3.0 is available now to current users via a free upgrade and to new users for download on iTunes for $2.99.
“The ESPN Radio app has been one of the most successful apps since its launch in September 2009, spending the better part of the last 16 months as the most downloaded paid sports app in the marketplace,” said Marc Horine, vice president of digital media for ESPN. “Our latest version takes app personalization to new heights, providing millions of ESPN listeners a custom, world-class audio experience to specific teams, shows, podcasts, and stations.”
New features and enhancements focused on personalization include:
- myESPN: Customized audio of favorite teams automatically pulled into the app (set up directly in the app or through ESPN.com);
- My Favorites: Collection of favorite stations, shows and podcasts from both local and national content;
- Searchable Audio: Search tens of thousands of audio clips by topic (player, team, sport, league, etc.);
- Audio On-Demand: Pause, rewind and fast forward on-demand audio;
- Geo-location-based Functionality: Enables a ready list of the closest ESPN affiliate stations;
- Podcasts: More than 40 ESPN Radio podcasts available, including the Award-Winning B.S. Report with Bill Simmons and Fantasy Focus, as well as Pardon The Interruption, Around The Horn and Football Today;
- SportsCenter Updates: Local and national 24/7 ESPN Radio SportsCenter updates every 20 minutes;
- ESPN Local: News and daily SportsCenter video updates from ESPN’s local sites: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York;
- Play-by-Play Broadcasts: Listen in real-time to select play-by-play for events like college basketball and the college football Bowl Championship Series;
- Social Media Integrations: Share what users are listening to via Facebook and Twitter;
- ESPN Bottomline: The latest news and scores in the world of sports.
The launch of ESPN Radio 3.0 marks the 10th anniversary of ESPNRadio.com, which in 2010 remained the most listened to live stream of any terrestrial broadcaster in the world – reaching more than three million unique users per month (source: Omniture) and one million unique listeners per month, more than double the previous year (source: Ando Media). ESPNRadio.com also was the largest, most listened to talk format stream, both terrestrially and via Internet-only streaming, generating nearly 10 million total sessions per month, up 33% in 2010. In addition, ESPN Podcasts recorded a year-to-year increase of more than 23%, reaching 156 million downloads through ESPN PodCenter and iTunes). This includes The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, which logged more than 42 million downloads in 2010.
To download the newly enhanced version of ESPN Radio, click here.
ESPN will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a multiplatform weeklong initiative, “Content of Character”, starting Tuesday, Jan. 11, and ending on the national holiday, Monday, Jan. 17. Highlights include a two-hour “town hall” discussion about the current image of the black athlete with director Spike Lee and other prominent panelists, special segments on SportsCenter and Outside the Lines, SportsNation on location at Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.) and Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.) and vignettes featuring prominent sports figures speaking about the impact of Dr. King’s legacy.
“At ESPN we go beyond showing games and highlights and reporting the news – we delve into the larger issues of sports in society,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. “Dr. King fought for equality for all, but spoke passionately of the plight of African Americans, and it’s appropriate we celebrate his life by examining how his legacy lives on – or struggles to – in the realm of athletics.”
“Content of Character” highlights:
National Town Hall Meeting – Friday, Jan. 14, from 6-8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Hosted by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and Outside the Lines’ Bob Ley, this two-hour special discussion will focus on the topic of the current image of the black athlete. Movie producer and noted sports fan Spike Lee will serve as executive producer and as one of the panelists, live from the New Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. King’s spiritual home. The panel will consist of athletes, coaches and entertainers including ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon, Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and former University of Miami football coach Randy Shannon. John Legend’s newly recorded cover of Harold Melvin’s “Wake Up Everybody,” with vocals by Melanie Fiona and Common, will be used as the theme music.
ESPN.com’s comprehensive coverage of the National Town Hall Meeting will be highlighted by reports in the Cover It Live chat room – blogging and answering fans questions, some as part of the televised event.
Outside the Lines to Focus on Black Leaders in Sports – January 11-14
ESPN’s daily sports issue program, Outside the Lines hosted by Ley, will devote four days starting Tuesday, Jan. 11, to profiling and discussing African Americans in sports – coaches, owners, executives and athletes. The half-hour show is aired weekdays at 3 p.m.
SportsNation on the Road
SportsNation, aired weekdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN2, will travel to Dr. King’s alma mater, Atlanta’s Morehouse College on Wednesday, Jan. 12, and from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La, on Thursday, Jan. 13. Co-host Michelle Beadle will be joined on the programs by ESPN NFL analyst Marcellus Wiley.
SportsCenter – January 11-17
SportsCenter will run special features and vignettes January 11-17. The segments will involve a preview of the Town Hall meeting and trends for black coaches, executives, team owners and other influencers in sports today, including interviews with Phoenix Suns GM Lance Blanks and Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Raheem Morris.
Vignettes will appear throughout ESPN studio and event programming and on ESPN.com with testimonials from prominent sports figures and ESPN commentators about Dr. King’s legacy.
- Additional features, special graphics and music are being created in support of the initiative;
- Each day ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning (simulcast on ESPN2) and The Herd with Colin Cowherd (simulcast on ESPNU) will have special MLK-themed segments. ESPN Radio will also run the vignettes and have special content running through the week.
- ESPN the Magazine will have dedicated content as part of the annual NEXT issue to be released Friday, Jan 14, as it highlights the “next” black influencers in sports.
- ESPN will hold a Sports Career Panel for students at Morehouse College Friday, Jan. 14.
A year ago on this date ESPN announced the launch of an event-based only 3D network which would air nearly 100 events in its first year. Today the company announced at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show that ESPN 3D will now air content 24-hours a day. As of Feb. 14, 2011, the network will show replays of previously televised ESPN 3D events when the network is not showing a live event.
“As we continue to expand the number of 3D events on the channel, it made sense operationally to transition ESPN 3D to a 24-7 network,” said Sean Bratches, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. “We’ve been very pleased with the rate at which our affiliates have adopted ESPN 3D in its first year and we continue to look for new ways to serve fans, advertisers and affiliates with the best 3D sports content available.”
On Fri., Jan 7, ESPN 3D will host a special edition of College Football Live on the Sony Stage at the International Consumer Electronics Show with Rece Davis, former coach Lou Holtz and analyst Mark May. The trio will preview the upcoming BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. and discuss how ESPN 3D is changing sports viewing. The BCS National Championship game will be available on ESPN 3D.
Since launching the network on June 11 with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the network has aired nearly 60 events. A full schedule for January follows.
|Wed, Jan 5||10:30 p.m.||NBA: Los Angeles at Phoenix|
|Fri, Jan 7||10:30 p.m.||NBA: New York at Phoenix|
|Mon, Jan 10||8:30 p.m.||BCS National Championship Game|
|Fri, Jan 14||10:30 p.m.||NBA: Portland at Phoenix|
|Fri, Jan 21||10:30 p.m.||NBA: Los Angeles at Denver|
|Thurs, Jan 27||12 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Ski SlopeStyle Elimination|
|Thurs, Jan 27||9 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s SB SuperPipe Elimination/Women’s SuperPipe Skiing Final|
|Fri, Jan 28||1 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Snowboard SlopeStyle Elimination|
|Fri, Jan 28||7 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Ski SuperPipe Final/SB Method Final|
|Sat, Jan 29||4:30 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Ski SlopeStyle Final|
|Sat, Jan 29||9 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Ski Big Air Final/Women’s SB SuperPipe Final|
|Sun, Jan 30||12:30 p.m.||Winter X Games: Women’s Snowboard SlopeStyle Final|
|Sun, Jan 30||3:30 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Snowboard SlopeStyle Final|
|Sun, Jan 30||8:30 p.m.||Winter X Games: Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe Final|