ESPN To Debut New Studio Shows This Saturday

In an attempt to stem ABC affiliate complaints about reduced sports programming on the weekend, ESPN will begin airing a two hour block of programming each Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET before and after the college football season. Hannah Storm will anchor the block and introduce two programs, one will be a rotation of ESPN programs such as 30 for 30, and the other will be a constant program, produced exclusively for ABC. Take a look at what you’ll see starting this Saturday.

Winners Bracket to Debut Saturday on ABC as Part of New ESPN Sports Saturday Block

SportsNation’s Michelle Beadle and NFL Analyst Marcellus Wiley to Host New Series
Winners Bracket, the new, 60-minute highlight-driven series, hosted by ESPN SportsNation co-host Michelle Beadle and ESPN contributor and former NFL All Pro Marcellus Wiley will debut Saturday, April 3 at 5 p.m. ET as part of ESPN Sports Saturday, a new two-hour block of sports programming on ABC (4-6 p.m.). The program will be available in high definition.

SportsCenter’s Hannah Storm will anchor ESPN Sports Saturday, guiding viewers throughout the two hours. The block will generally begin with a 60-minute episode of one of three signature ESPN series – ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary series, E:60 news magazine or the athlete interview series Homecoming with Rick Reilly – followed by the hour long Winners Bracket.
From thrilling performances to record-setting moments to unforgettable quotes, Winners Bracket will debate and recap the week in sports in a fast tempo, quick-witted bracket-style format with the 16 biggest newsmakers of the week pitted against each other in seeded brackets. The hosts will banter and offer their unique perspectives – one as a life-long sports fan and the other as a former pro athlete – during each round of debate which will also be framed through highlights and comments from ESPN analysts. The show will culminate with the determination of the definitive play of the week as the bracket champion.

ESPN experts will regularly offer their perspective, including in the debut show, ESPN Radio host Mike Greenberg, college basketball analyst Digger Phelps and NBA analyst Jalen Rose. ESPN Radio and SportsNation host Colin Cowherd will also be a frequent contributor.

Other elements planned for Winners Bracket include: a collection of sound bytes from athletes and coaches, a taste of that week in sports history, a countdown of the 20 “lowlights” from the week, sports-themed web videos, and a look at athletes whom fans might have expected to see in the bracket but missed.
Winners Bracket will have the most indelible sports moments of the week – the plays fans will be talking about even if they haven’t seen the games,” said Winners Bracket coordinating producer Jamie Horowitz, who also is the coordinating producer of ESPN2’s SportsNation. “It will be a one-hour sprint through seven days of highlights and lowlights – all discussed and debated the way fans talk about sports.”
The fast-paced, quick-hitting Winners Bracket will resemble SportsNation, the popular weekday fan-interactive studio show (4 p.m. on ESPN2) hosted by Beadle and Cowherd that debuted in July 2009 and was nominated for three Sports Emmy awards this month – Production Design/Art Direction, Tech Team Studio and Graphic Design. The SportsNation production team will also oversee Winners Bracket. In addition, fans will be able to interact with the show and its hosts across social media platforms, including Facebook (Winners Bracket), Twitter (@Winners_Bracket, @ESPN_Michelle, @marcelluswiley) and YouTube (ABCWinnersBracket).
Said Beadle: “I love what I am doing on SportsNation and to now have the opportunity to do even more on Winners Bracket as part of ESPN Sports Saturday on ABC is the perfect situation. I am super-stoked to be working with Marcellus, and hopefully we can also help bring about world peace.”
Added Wiley: “Hosting Winners Bracket on ABC with Michelle makes me feel like I got drafted again. The format of the show is fun and will give us the chance to bring our personalities and humor into it while bringing fans the best plays of the week.”
April 3 and 10
The first episode of Winners Bracket on April 3 will be preceded by the television debut of the ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary Guru of Go, which chronicles the incredible run of Loyola Marymount University’s men’s basketball team and the tragic death of its star Hank Gathers. On April 10, ESPN Sports Saturday will coincide with the first full weekend of the Major League Baseball season with a new episode of Homecoming with Rick Reilly featuring Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer followed by Winners Bracket.
ESPN Sports Saturday
ESPN Sports Saturday will generally be featured Saturdays from 4-6 p.m. ET (3-5 p.m. CT/2-4 p.m. MT and PT), 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. During the last portion of the block each week, local ABC affiliates will have the opportunity to insert a short, local update to promote upcoming programming.
ESPN on ABC Programming
In addition to the new ESPN Sports Saturday, ESPN on ABC offers a variety of top quality live event programming. Among the offerings are NBA regular-season games, playoffs, and The Finals; FIFA World Cup soccer; NASCAR Sprint Cup; the Indianapolis 500; the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and championship; Belmont Stakes; Little League Worl
d Series; and Saturday Night Football, the only weekly prime-time college football series on broadcast television.

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About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.