ESPN Classic Set to Debut Sports Century

In an effort to build appointment viewing among sports enthusiasts, ESPN Classic will provide weekly primetime-series programming built around its SportsCentury series.

The hour-long SportsCentury shows, which profile different athletes from sports history, will debut on ESPN Classic July 12 and run week-nights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., vice president and general manager Mark Shapiro said.

The shows, hosted by Chris Fowler, will launch with a profile on Moe Berg and feature other athletes, including Connie Hawkins, Ted Williams, Billy Martin, Arnold Palmer, Bo Jackson, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

ESPN will air the first SportsCentury show July 10 prior to its "Home Run Derby" telecast-part of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game festivities, Shapiro said.

"What Biography is to [A & E Network], SportsCentury is to ESPN Classic," Shapiro said. "The series will not only present good stories on great athletes, but great stories on good athletes."

The series will also serve as the foundation for ESPN Classic's prime-time lineup. Following SportsCentury, the lineup will include sport-specific "game-of-the-night" programming and weekly specialty shows.

On weekends, Shapiro said, the network will build its programming lineup around the sports history of a particular city or region. ESPN Classic will show vintage games and highlights from professional and college teams originating from the featured city, he added.

ESPN Classic will also debut a daily version of ESPN's "bottom line" sports ticker, which will feature classic sports moments of the day, twice per hour from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.