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

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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.”

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ESPN Films to Produce Vince Lombardi Biopic Starring Robert De Niro

Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro is attached to play legendary coach Vince Lombardi in the theatrical motion picture LOMBARDI being developed by ESPN Films, Andell Entertainment and the NFL. Additionally, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Good Shepherd) has come on board the project which will chronicle Lombardi during the years he transformed the Green Bay Packers from the worst team in the National Football League into five-time NFL champions.

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Disney Granted US Patent to Help ESPN Keep a Few Electronic Eyes on Athletes

Using a potential combination of RFID and/or ultra-wide band (UWB) technologies, US Patent #,7671,802 provides a method for tracking the on-field locations of athletes and sports equipment (including fast-moving and rapid direction-changing items such as hockey pucks) in real-time.

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Photos: Mickey, Minnie and Special Guests Help Re-launch ESPN Wide World of Sports

(L-R) Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises; George Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Disney Parks and Resorts; and Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort(L-R) Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises; George Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Disney Parks and Resorts; and Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort, pose Feb. 25, 2010 with a football-clad Mickey Mouse during the official re-launch ceremony for the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ESPN Wide World of Sports is a 220-acre international sports complex located at Walt Disney World Resort. (David Roark, photographer)

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ESPN Names ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as 3D Development Center

Recognizing the need for a real-world testing ground to continue the development of ESPN 3D, ESPN has designated the ESPN Innovation Lab at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex located at the Walt Disney World resort as the hub for developing 3D technology.  ESPN will invite various technology companies to utilize the site for emerging technology enhancements focused on 3D television.  In addition to the resources at the Innovation Lab, ESPN will bring online a new production center that can be used for producing live sporting events for multiple ESPN platforms.

The ESPN Innovation Lab at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World. © ESPN

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Study: Cable Operators Rank ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney Channel as Most Valuable Networks

In Beta Research Corp.’s 2009 Cable Operator Study, ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney Channel again ranked first, second and third in the key category of average perceived value.  This is the 10th consecutive year that cable operators have ranked ESPN the most valuable network on their cable system.  ESPN2 and the Disney Channel have held the second and third most valuable spots for five consecutive years.

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Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall to Greet Fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Feb 26

To commemorate the opening of the Champion Custom Tee Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports located at the Walt Disney World resort, Steelers’ running back and Champion brand ambassador Rashard Mendenhall will greet guests on Friday, February 26 at the Champion Sports Zone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Mendenhall will be greeting his fans from 12 – 2 pm. No purchase is required to meet with Mendenhall, however admission to the park is required.

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Champion to Open Custom Tee Shirt Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Concept art for the Champion Custom Tee Center at ESPN Wide World of SportsOn the official Disney Parks blog, Walt Disney World has announced that Champion will open a Custom Tee Center later this month in which those competing at events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports can take their event tees to the center and choose from over 50 embellishments to add to the tee, ranging in cost from $1.95 – $4.95 each.

The main location for the center will be inside the Jostens Center, across from the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, but mobile units will be dispatched across the complex as needed by events as they happen.

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Harlem Globetrotters to Open ESPN Wide World of Sports; Event Televised February 26 on ESPN2

Three of the biggest names in sports and entertainment will come together this week when the Harlem Globetrotters join forces with ESPN and Disney Sports as part of the official re-launch of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.

As part of the gala “re-opening” night festivities, the Globetrotters will take on the Washington Generals at the complex, with an all-star Globetrotter roster, including Special K Daley, Scooter Christensen, Big Easy Lofton and Flight Time Lang being joined by a bevy of sports celebrities, ESPN personalities and Disney characters. The game will be taped before a live audience on Thursday and televised nationally on Friday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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ESPN Flaunts ‘Ultimate Uplink’ Technology with Virtual In-Studio Interview

Orlando Magic center Dwight ‘Superman’ Howard reversed the world’s spin yesterday to manipulate time and make an ‘in-studio’ appearance at the ESPN Studios in Connecticut while simultaneously existing in the flesh in Orlando. New technology created at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World allows the virtual projection of a ‘hologram,’ allowing an individual in one physical location appear to be in another altogether (some assembly required).

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