ABC Rebranding Sports Under ESPN

Reflecting what has been going on behind the scenes for years, ESPN and ABC Sports announced today that all sports programming on the ABC television network will now be branded under the ESPN umbrella beginning Sept. 2.

The move is solely an on-air change, as ABC and ESPN merged their sales staffs five years ago and all production, programming and marketing was merged under ESPN last year.ESPN content chief John Skipper oversees both ESPN and ABC Sports, while ESPN’s senior vice president of marketing Katie Lacey heads up marketing for both.

All promos for sports programming on ABC will continue to direct viewers to the ABC network, but once there people will see all ESPN graphics and sets. The ABC watermark, however, will remain in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

When sports programming is airing on ABC, updates will often be branded under ESPN’s signature SportsCenter brand.

Under the moniker “ESPN on ABC,” the new look will kick off Saturday, Sept. 2 with ABC’s college football telecasts in the afternoon, followed by Saturday Night Football, the first primetime college football series on broadcast television.

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, said the move has been under consideration for some time, and is simply an evolution in the relationship between ESPN and ABC.He maintained the move had nothing to do with any devaluation in the brand equity of ABC Sports, but rather was a testament to that of ESPN.