Press release from ESPN, May 19, 2016:
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 will combine to present over 13 live hours of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee, presented by Kindle, from National Harbor, Md., on May 25 and 26. This is the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee and ESPN’s 23rd straight year of televising the finals.
ESPN3 will exclusively carry all preliminary rounds live on Wednesday (8 a.m.). Live coverage of the Finals will begin on Thursday, May 26, at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. The Finals competition will conclude on ESPN and WatchESPN at 8 p.m.
Throughout the competition, ESPN3 on WatchESPN will feature a second-screen, multiple-choice Play-Along version, presented by Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie, that gives fans a one-in-four chance to pick the correct spelling of the given word, allowing fans to try their hand at competing along with the spellers. This year’s Play-Along version has been enhanced, adding a fourth multiple choice answer to create a more integrated and immersive experience. It will still feature informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, pronunciation and part of speech, as well as live tweets, the speller’s bio and more.
Also new this year is the SpellCheck feature on the main feed, highlighting each individual letter as the speller spells the word. Correct letters will be highlighted in gold, and the first letter the speller gets incorrect will be highlighted in red.
The 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature 285 champion spellers, ranging in age from six to 15. Spellers qualify for the national competition by winning locally sponsored spelling contests in their respective communities. The champion spellers who travel to the Washington, D.C. area, represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Wed, May 25
8-11:45 a.m. — Preliminary Round & Play-Along Version, ESPN3
1:15-4:45 p.m. — Preliminary Round & Play-Along Version, ESPN3
Thu, May 26
10 a.m.-2 p.m. — Finals & Play-Along Version, ESPN2, ESPN3
8-10 p.m. — Conclusion of Finals & Play-Along Version, ESPN, ESPN3
Commentators: SportsCenter’s Kevin Negandhi Debuts; ESPN College Sports Reporter Kaylee Hartung and Word Analyst Paul Loeffler Return
- Kevin Negandhi – An award-winning sports reporter, Negandhi makes his debut this year as host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Negandhi anchors the 7 a.m. ET SportsCenter:AM and has hosted NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, Outside the Lines, College Football Live, NBA Tonight, and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four at ESPN. Negandhi is the first Indian-American to serve on a national sports network, and the first Indian-American to host the National Spelling Bee.
- Paul Loeffler – The Spelling Bee finalist represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star in the 1990 Scripps National Spelling Bee, finishing among the top 13 spellers. He makes his 11th straight appearance on ESPN as the word analyst. Loeffler is also the current voice of Fresno State athletics (football, basketball and baseball), and has called football and baseball for ESPN in the past.
- Kaylee Hartung – An award-winning college sports reporter for ESPN, Hartung made her debut as the Scripps National Spelling Bee reporter two years ago. In her reporting role for ESPN, she regularly appears on SportsCenter and SEC Nation, SEC Network’s traveling Saturday morning pregame show.