Comcast Becomes First Cable Provider to Offer ESPN 3D

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq:  CMCSA, CMCSK), one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communication products and services, and ESPN today announced an agreement to provide ESPN 3D to Comcast’s Digital Cable customers, to bring top sports events to consumers in next-generation 3D. Comcast is the first cable affiliate to sign on to distribute ESPN’s new network that will launch on June 11 and will include nearly 100 events in its first year.

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Over 13,000 Students Expected to Compete in ESPN RISE Games at Walt Disney World Resort

ESPN RISE and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, the nation’s leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports, announced today that they have grown the ESPN RISE Games’ elite and competitive event offering and expect to host more than 13,000 student athletes during its 2010 event at the sports complex in suburban Orlando, Fla. Target has returned as the title sponsor for the second year of the ESPN RISE Games.  The ESPN RISE Games Presented by Target will take place over a two week period, July 14-27. Events will air on both ESPNU and ESPN3.com.

The ESPN RISE Games Presented by Target, a two-week long elite and competitive level student athlete focused event, will be anchored by four elite high school sports events. New for the 2010 event is the Champion High School Showcase, a US Lacrosse boys and girls event. Returning for the second year are the AAU 17-under Boys Basketball Super Showcase presented by Champion®, the Under Armour High School Softball All-America game and the elite 7 on 7 high school football event Champion® Gridiron Kings.

The ESPN RISE Games has also increased its competitive channel youth sports; it has added boys and girls lacrosse: US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, softball: USSSA Fast Pitch World Series (U16 and U18) and football: the Florida Premier 7s, an invite only, 7-on-7 event to feature 64 Florida high school teams – the inaugural event will include Dr. Phillips, Miramar, Manatee and DeLand high schools. Returning to the schedule from the 2009 event are baseball: USSSA Global Baseball World Series, basketball: AAU Super Showcases (14U 15U and 16U) and AAU 14U National Championship, field hockey: Disney Summer 7s & 11s National Championships a USA Field Hockey event (U12, U14, U16 and U19) and track & field: AAU National Club Championships (13-18). The ESPN RISE Games Presented by Target has grown from hosting 4,000 student athletes to more than 13,000 expected student athletes for the 2010 event.

ESPN RISE GAMES ELITE EVENT DETAILS:

  • Champion® High School Showcase a US Lacrosse Event is the “National All-Star Game” of high school lacrosse featuring the top high school players from across the country. The event is set-up in a final four format, with two semifinal games, a third place game and a championship game. All of the teams are guaranteed practice and scrimmage time. Girls: July 17-19 Boys: July 20-22
  • Under Armour High School Softball All-American game will feature 30 of the top high school players in the nation divided into two squads.  Players are selected by a committee of high school softball experts from ESPN RISE.  July 19-20
  • AAU 17-under Boys Basketball Super Showcase presented by Champion® is part of the AAU National Championships held at the ESPN sports complex and features marquee 17-under club teams from across the country.  The event includes two days of pool play and a single-elimination tournament. The tournament is a breeding ground for future NBA stars including Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, as well as collegiate phenoms such as Tyler Hansbrough and JJ Redick. July 24-27
  • Champion® Gridiron Kings is an elite high school football event that features 64 of the best players in the game’s seven skill positions – quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and safety.  The event includes performance training, position specific training, skills challenges and a 7-on-7 competition. July 24-25
  • Under Armour High School Softball All-American, Champion Gridiron Kings, AAU 17-under Boys Basketball Super Showcase presented by Champion® and Champion® High School Senior Showcase a US Lacrosse Event (boys event) events will be presented on ESPNU live and as pre-recorded shows; ESPN3.com will air live competitive events.

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ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill to Offer 2010 FIFA World Cup Viewing Parties

Soccer fans in Central Florida can get swept up in the fever of 2010 FIFA World Cup through unique viewing opportunities at Walt Disney World Resort.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill at Disney has been designated as an official viewing location for the month-long global soccer tournament.  Soccer fans can watch live World Cup matches televised on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 from South Africa involving their favorite soccer national teams on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill’s many large high-definition screens.

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ABC to Air 2010 ‘Scripps National Spelling Bee’ Finals in Primetime on June 4

Will it be the most dramatic spelling bee competition ever? Find out when Chris Harrison (host of “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor”) hosts live television coverage of the final championship rounds of “The 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee,” FRIDAY, JUNE 4 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), live from Washington, DC, as 273 spellers from around the world compete. Semifinal rounds air live earlier in the day on ESPN, which has televised the Bee since 1994. ESPN’s live telecast (simulcast on ESPN3.com) is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., ET. ESPN3.com will provide coverage of Round Three of the preliminaries from 1:15 – 5:15 p.m., ET on Thursday, June 3.

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ESPN’s X Games Returns to Downtown Los Angeles After Seven Years

ESPN – together with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and the Los Angeles Coliseum – will celebrate its 16th annual action sports event, the X Games, entirely downtown between STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre, the Los Angeles Coliseum and L.A. LIVE. The 2010 event will mark the seventh consecutive year that the X Games will take place in Los Angeles.  Thirty-one hours of live X Games programming on ESPN and ESPN2 – all in high definition – will be aired July 29 through August 1, as well as on ESPN International, ESPN.com\action, ESPN Classic, ESPN3.com, and SportsCenter.

“It has been seven years since we first had X Games events at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and ESPN couldn’t be more thrilled to be returning this year with several of our sports,” said Jack Wienert, ESPN executive director, X Games Event Management. “As the X Games franchise continues to grow, we are proud and excited about our continued great relationship with AEG as we expand our presence this year downtown at STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE.”

Lee Zeidman, STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre and L.A. LIVE Sr. Vice President & General Manager, said: “STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre, L.A. LIVE and AEG are incredibly excited to expand our partnership with ESPN and the X Games in downtown Los Angeles. The ability to activate the entire L.A. LIVE campus for four days with non stop X Games events is something that everyone is really looking forward to this summer, and X Games 16 will undoubtedly be an experience fans will not want to miss.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to have the X Games back at the Coliseum,” said Pat Lynch, general manager for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum & Sports Arena.  “As the original home to the precursor of the X Games, the original motocross, we truly appreciate and love showcasing this world-class action sports event.”

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Disney Leaps Onto iPad with Apps from Disney Interactive, Disney Publishing, ABC and ESPN

As part of its ongoing strategy to provide original creative content where and how consumers want it, Disney will offer applications from all of its businesses on the new Apple iPad.

The ABC Player app extends the reach of ABC.com’s full episode player onto the iPad. iPad users will have the ability to watch free, ad-supported episodes from approximately 20 popular ABC series through a wi-fi connection. The application will also allow iPad users to purchase downloads of episodes via the iTunes store. The ABC iPad app brings the full experience of ABC.com’s Emmy Award-winning full episode player to a touch-screen, handheld device for the first time. Additionally, the ABC.com site is now optimized for the iPad, complete with full-functionality for all its features, including short-form video.

Disney Publishing Worldwide has built two original “Toy Story” read-along apps for the iPad, both combining Disney stories and unique activities with cutting edge technology. Each “Toy Story” read-along is an immersive multimedia experience – the books feature video from the feature films, karaoke and voice record features, the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, songs from the movies, original games, and even an interactive coloring feature that lets kids finger-paint with up to 10 fingers on the screen. The “Toy Story” app is free and the “Toy Story 2” app is $8.99 and comes with a one month free subscription to disneydigitalbooks.com. In addition, new “Disney Princess,” “Phineas & Ferb,” “Winnie the Pooh” and “Toy Story 3” apps will go live on the iPad later this spring.

Disney Online has built a custom iPad version of its flagship website, Disney.com, which focuses on exclusive video content. iPad videos featured at launch include new scenes from highly-anticipated Disney films “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” full-episodes of popular Disney Channel and Disney XD series “Hannah Montana,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Suite Life on Deck” and “Phineas & Ferb,” and a new Muppets music video, “Stand by Me.”

“The iPad provides a very compelling consumer experience, and we are pleased to have new forms of original, interactive content on this great device,” said Bob Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.

In addition to the ABC player and “Toy Story” read-along apps, Disney, ABC and ESPN will launch the following applications:

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ESPNNewYork.com Sets Launch Date for April 2

Preview of ESPNNewYork.com courtesy of ESPNESPN is in a New York state of mind with ESPNNewYork.com, the latest edition of ESPN’s network of local sites and newest destination for New York sports news and information.  The site features exclusive, original content from local contributors, locally relevant content created from ESPN’s multiple platforms and branded programming.

“We are committed to offering a truly local experience with these sites, and thus with the launch of ESPNNewYork.com, we are dedicated to finding contributors and authentic voices that have a passion for all things New York, an expertise on the hometown teams and a real, meaningful connection with fans in the NY area,” said Jim Pastor, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Local.  “Our mission is to serve sports fans, and in just one year, we’ve managed to establish a deeper relationship on a local level with fans in Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles.  They are each among the top local sports destinations for fans in their respective markets, and we have high hopes for New York as we build our presence from the solid foundation we’ve established through the success and reach of our owned and operated station, ESPN Radio 1050 AM.”

The site launches under the day-to-day editorial leadership of new executive editor Leon Carter, a news veteran with over 24 years of experience with the NY sports media world, most recently as sports editor for the New York Daily News and previously with Newsday.  He is an award-winning editor who has covered the NY area sports scene since 1984.

In 2009, Carter was honored with the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for his efforts promoting diversity in the newsroom and guiding the careers of more than 250 minority journalists over the past 16 years.  He co-founded and continues to instruct at the Sports Journalism Institute, an intensive nine-week training and internship program for aspiring minority journalists held every summer since 1993.

“New York is one of the world’s greatest sports cities, home to one of most passionate fan bases and some of the most storied franchises in sports,” said Rob King, vice president and editor-in-chief, ESPN.com.  “Leon is a veteran of the NY media world who truly understands the NY area sports landscape.  His leadership will drive the editorial direction of ESPNNewYork.com and build a sports site for true NY sports fans.”

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Photo: Pittsburgh’s Taylor and Holmes ‘Steel’ Some PS3 Time at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers stars Ike Taylor (left) and Santonio Holmes (right) play a game of “Madden NFL ’10″ March 23, 2010 at the PlayStation Pavilion at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The new PlayStation Pavilion features PlayStation 3 systems, including a SingStar stage and a collection of the latest video game releases. (Photo by Todd Anderson/Disney)

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ESPN Launches Unprecedented Cross-Media Research Initiative: ESPN XP

ESPN XP

Today at the ARF’s Re:think 2010 conference, ESPN Research+Analytics revealed plans for ESPN XP, a research initiative unprecedented in its scope, to study consumer behavior around major sporting events beginning with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.  Using one of the largest collections of research companies ever assembled plus a top-tier business school, ESPN XP will attempt to measure media usage and advertiser effects for the World Cup across all media platforms – TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print.

“We have learned a lot about cross-media behavior since we began work in this field in 2002,” said Artie Bulgrin, Senior Vice President, Research and Analytics.  “ESPN XP represents a major step forward in our commitment to further advance our knowledge about multi-media use, and the total and incremental impact it has on our clients’ media campaigns.”

Companies joining ESPN in this initiative include The Keller Fay Group, Knowledge Networks, The Media Behavior Institute, The Nielsen Company and The Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI).  Additional members of the collective will be announced at a later date.

ESPN XP is unique because it represents the first time a media company has attempted to measure all media platforms around a single event, including both media usage and advertiser effects.  It is different from previous work on cross-media audiences because it is an ongoing initiative — measuring the World Cup is only the first project in a series of quarterly projects to fall under the ESPN XP umbrella.  ESPN will take the best of what is learned from the World Cup and apply it to football in the fall and other sports during 2011.   The goal is to create a scalable research plan to measure cross-media audiences 12 months out of the year by 2012.

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‘Alice in Wonderland’ Tech, ESPN 3D to Headline 2010 National Association of Broadcasters Show

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has announced a couple of Content Theater Sessions for the 2010 NAB Show which bring Disney technology to the forefront. The show takes place in Las Vegas from April 10-15.

In ‘Alice in Wonderland’: Turning Fantasy into Motion Picture Reality,the session will will explore both the production and post production processes, and will describe the challenges of creating characters of unique heights and proportions with special attention to the hybrid of live action and visual effects and the conversion of 2D to stereoscopic 3D. Expected to appear on the panel are: Art Repola, executive vice president of visual effects and production, The Walt Disney Studios; Ken Ralston, multi Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor for the film; Corey Turner, stereographer for the film; and Tom Peitzman, co-producer/visual effects producer for the film. The session is scheduled to place Monday, April 12.

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