Social Media Gaming, 3D and Michelle Beadle Are the Future of ESPN

↵The whole TV industry gets in a tizzy this week with their "upfronts," which is just a word used to get the media to come cover the media in order to promote the new shows that will be coming out in the next calendar year. In reality, the events are geared toward advertisers and the networks go to great length to entice those in charge of spending millions upon millions of dollars to do so on their new and revolutionary programming. ↵

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↵ESPN held it's "upfront" on Tuesday in New York City and announced a few new initiatives that they hope will grow their brand even more in 2010-2011. While those inside ESPN seem high on their "year of the quarterback" project, clearly the most high-profile announcement for the Worldwide Leader is the release of the official schedule for ESPN 3D. Gimmick or not, 3D sports viewing is the future, and ESPN will be at the forefront of that with 25 matches – using a 3D world feed produced by FIFA – to be showcased during the World Cup this summer. ↵

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↵Another big announcement was an agreement with Playdom, a company that specializes in social media games. You know when you go to Facebook and you play one of those silly games that ten million other people waste their time (and money) playing online? That's Playdom, and ESPN is going to make a sports version of that. Hey, if you're paying money to own a stinking virtual farm, why not own a stinking virtual football team? Why not own an entire network of teams? Just don't end up $525 million in debt like Tom Hicks, because nobody is going to want your virtual Rangers or virtual Liverpool shares then. ↵

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↵A few weeks ago I asked if ESPN would dive more into the social media pool like CNN has done, eventually spending hours of "news" programming reading people's tweets and Facebook status updates. I was told at that time that they have something similar in the works, yet decidedly smarter than what, say, Rick Sanchez does on his show. I've been told that U:Nite could become that project. ↵

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↵Last, the afternoon program SportsNation serves as somewhat of a trailblazer for projects like U:Nite, and I've been told by an ESPN source that the company has found their next breakout star, not that the news should be a surprise to anyone paying attention so far this year. ↵

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↵"SportsNation going to the next level," I was told by an ESPN exec. "Pretty clear Beadle is a rising star around here, and we are going to produce a Spanish language version of the show out of LA starting in January." ↵

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↵The Spanish-language version of the show on ESPN Deportes called Nación ESPN. The show will star Adriana Monsalve and David Faitelson who, per the release, are two of the networks most recognized sportscasters. ↵

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↵⇥On the heels of the success of SportsNation, ESPN’s Sports Emmy-Award winning, fan-interactive program, ESPN Deportes will launch Nación ESPN, a Spanish-language, culturally relevant original production targeted to Hispanic sports fans. Produced from ESPN’s facility in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Hispanic market, Nación ESPN will debut on ESPN Deportes first quarter 2011. Nación ESPN will be the network’s first show produced from Los Angeles. ↵
↵Say what you want about Colin Cowherd – and trust me, I have – but the SportsNation brand, including the rapport between he and Beadle, seems to really work. I suppose Beadle can make anyone likeable, and that's probably part of the reason why ESPN is so high on her. Now if they can only combine Beadle, 3D and online gaming, they may have the greatest project in the history of the company.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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