Stations in the ESPN Zone

Sep 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Two West Coast stations will air their weekly postgame sports shows live from ESPN Zone restaurants following ABC’s “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 10.
In Las Vegas, Journal Broadcast Group-owned ABC affiliate KTNV-TV will broadcast its “Monday Night Quarterback” from the new ESPN Zone, which opened in July at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino.
In Los Angeles, KABC-TV will be the first ABC-owned station to broadcast a live weekly sports show out of an ESPN Zone. KABC will air “Monday Night Live” from the ESPN Zone in Anaheim, Calif., which opened in January at Downtown Disney. ABC owns 80 percent of ESPN.
“We’re thrilled that we are able to host `Monday Night Live’ and `Monday Night Quarterback,”’ said John Pierce, ESPN Zone’s regional marketing manager. “The big deal is this is the first time we’re going to do a weekly show live; the others were done live to tape.”
“It’s great for guest [diners’] satisfaction, and for those viewing at home it showcases ESPN Zone in a way that no advertising can,” Mr. Pierce said.
ESPN takes advantage of synergy by broadcasting its “The Sports Reporters” show every Sunday morning from ESPN Zone in New York; the network’s “Up Close” is taped at the Anaheim location. Back in 1998, ABC’s pregame show for “Monday Night Football” was broadcast from the first ESPN Zone in Baltimore. In 1999, the network’s halftime show was produced from the New York ESPN Zone in Times Square. Those two shows are no longer done at the two restaurants, but ESPN does live shots weekly during the year with its sports analysts from various venues around the country. But this is the first time an ABC-owned station will regularly air a show out of one of its venues and use the ESPN set.
KABC’s “Monday Night Live” will use the same studio that is being used for the popular weekday ESPN interview show “Up Close.” The studio is in the Studio Grill, which has tables set around the anchor desk, with the diners as the audience.
“Monday Night Live” is hosted by KABC sports anchor Bill Weir, along with weekend sports anchor Rob Fukuzaki and sports reporter Curt Sandoval. They will be joined by analysts and former NFL stars such as Bob Golic, a linebacker for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Raiders, and Jackie Slater, who was an offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams and earlier this month was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Both have been on Fox Sports Net in the past, and this marks Mr. Slater’s debut on the KABC show.
Both the Las Vegas and Los Angeles postgame shows will air immediately following “Monday Night Football” and end by 10 p.m.
“To me, there aren’t two bigger names in Los Angeles than ESPN and Eyewitness News or Eyewitness Sports,” said KABC General Manager Arnold Kleiner. “It’s synergy at its best. There’s 35,000 square feet, and we’re planning on using all of it.”
KABC News Director Cheryl Fair said although “Monday Night Live” will have football coverage, it will also cover other sports and take advantage of its position as the only regularly scheduled prime-time local sports show on a major station in the market. “If there’s some big news involving the Lakers or Dodgers, it’s going to be on that show,” she said.
KABC has already aired two preseason shows, sending Mr. Fukuzaki to the Anaheim venue to give viewers a little taste of the new facility.
There are seven ESPN Zones in the country: New York, Anaheim, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Another one will open in December in Denver, and Mr. Pierce said ESPN Zone is currently in discussions with a local broadcast partner in that market. ESPN Zone is also having discussions with local stations in Atlanta.
While local stations such as ABC-owned WLS-TV, Chicago, do live remotes from the ESPN Zone, this season there are only three markets where ESPN Zone has partnerships with local stations for regularly scheduled shows. In addition to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, ESPN Zone has a partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned Fox affiliate WBFF-TV, Baltimore, for a weekly show, “Fox 45 Football Playbook.” Unlike in the other two markets, this show is not live and will air Sundays as a lead-in to Fox’s NFL coverage on Sept. 9.
In Las Vegas, the live show will be hosted by KTNV sports director/anchor Ron Futrell along with KTNV weekend sports anchor Mario Diaz. KTNV is hoping to get more visibility out of the show, which will also include other sports.
Mr. Futrell will move around the restaurant during the show, interacting with the audience, and he will toss segments to Mr. Diaz, who will be stationed in some other part of the venue. During the show, viewers can win prizes such as a truck in a giveaway sponsored by a local dealership. Mr. Futrell may choose an interactive game such as football throwing, post a score and then encourage the audience to try to beat the score during halftime. They will be able to win prizes from ESPN Zone, KTNV and Pepsi, an ESPN Zone sponsor.
KTNV spokeswoman Christi Braginton said the partnership with “Monday Night Quarterback”came out of an hour-long special the station did in July showcasing the grand opening of the market’s new ESPN Zone.
“I think people will think it’s great that we’re putting the show on live in a great sports location that appeals to not only tourists but also to locals,” she said. “It’s great because you can go down there and watch live TV being created.