ESPNU, the college sports channel that has been suffering from lack of wide distribution, could soon be seen by a lot more people. ESPN and Comcast today announced a deal to put the U on the digital basic tier of most of its systems in time for college football season. In addition, DirecTV is putting ESPNU in its Choice package (and moving ESPN Classic into a sports tier) on July 1.
The combined moves will put ESPNU in 46 million homes, more than 50 percent of the households that have either cable or satellite. ESPN itself is in well over 90 percent of those homes.
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ESPN Radio’s Tirico & Van Pelt Show will become just The Scott Van Pelt Show on July 6. Van Pelt will also get a new co-host, Ryen Russillo, who apparently won’t make the program’s title because of how he spells his first name. The last hour of the Van Pelt show, which runs 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern, will be simulcast on ESPN2.
Tirico won’t be disappearing from ESPN Radio. He’ll host a weekly, in-season football show on Friday nights from 7 to 9. However, it appears the network has decided to cut back on the schedule of its major play-by-play voice (Monday Night Football, NBA).
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The busy ESPN people also announced — this flurry comes as part of its “up-front” presentation to advertisers in New York — the launch of SportsNation on July 6 on ESPN2. The one-hour show will air weekdays at 4 p.m., hosted by ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd and New York radio/TV sportscaster Michelle Beadle. The program is described as “a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.”
In a news release, Cowherd said: “We want to make it as if we’re just goofing off while there happens to be a camera in the room.”
Isn’t that MTV’s Real World?
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Comcast and the NFL today announced the deal — reported first by SportsBusiness Journal — to put the NFL Network on the digital basic channel lineup. The NFL Network is scheduled to go on Comcast systems by Aug. 1.
Oh, and they’ll stop suing each other.