ESPN Loosens Its Grip on Key TV Sports Properties

May 12, 2015  •  Post A Comment

ESPN revealed today at its upfront presentation in New York that it will share a pair of major sports properties with ABC. Variety reports that the cable channel will make available both the annual ESPY Awards and an NFL wild card game to the broadcast network.

Both ESPN and ABC are owned by Disney. The NFL game will be a simulcast on the two networks, the report notes.

Speaking to reporters, John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said: “Our goal is to try to increase the audience.”

Skipper added: “You will see us being a little more opportunistic with ABC. We want to figure out where we can take advantage of it.”

Other moves in the works at ESPN also point to a closer relationship with ABC. “ESPN will move its popular ‘Mike & Mike’ radio program into the same Times Square building in New York City where ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ is broadcast, in the hopes of getting guests from one show to appear on the other, while selling advertising packages that include both properties,” Variety notes. “The two networks also unveiled a package of ESPN college-football championship games and ABC’s long-running ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.’”

On a different topic, ESPN execs were asked about the recent news that popular on-air personality Bill Simmons is leaving the company, as we reported Friday. While they didn’t add much insight, they did address the issue.

Said Skipper: “It’s about, ultimately, what he wants to do, what value that creates, what he wants to do, what we want to do together, and deciding whether it’s going to be a match. And we decided, ultimately, there wouldn’t be.”

The network indicated it does intend to continue the Grantland digital publication, which Simmons founded.


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