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ESPN Deportes Enlists Print Journalists for Show

ESPN Deportes on Monday premiered Juego Cruzado, a nightly news and commentary program hosted by Venezuela-born Luis Alfredo Álvarez.

The show, which is modeled after ESPN’s Around the Horn, features a group of panelists from some of the nation’s top Spanish-language newspapers, including La Opinión (Los Angeles), El Nuevo Herald (Miami), El Diario La Prensa (New York) and Milenio (Mexico City) who join the host in a lively half-hour discussion about current sports issues.

Although Álvarez will host from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studio, the network will deploy cameras to the different cities where the journalists are based, from where they will be able to interact directly with him and with their fellow commentators.

“This is a great opportunity for the newspapers to grow online,” Christian Calcagno, producer of Juego Cruzado, told Multichannel News. In addition to the half-hour program, will host a special microsite for the show.

Juego Cruzado premiered Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. (ET) and is hosted by Álvarez, who acts as a sort of editor in chief testing and rating the strength of each journalist’s comments. In addition to Álvarez, the program features “La voz del Jefe”(“voice of the boss”) which will represent the voice of the publisher and appear in the background sporadically. During the program, Álvarez will be able to use a mute button if a panelist interrupts another. The winner, declared in the fourth segment of the show, will be responsible for the “editorial of the day.”

Although modeled after Around the Horn, Calcagno says Juego Cruzado incorporates much more of the latest technology available, including high-tech fiber optic connections to each newsroom to ensure every discussion and argument will be delivered in real time. But perhaps more importantly, Juego Cruzado aims to become a multiplatform program, with viewers participating via video commentaries that they can send online, creating a unique interaction between the TV show and the Web. In addition, the different journalists will be blogging on a dedicated site.

ESPN Deportes’ producers say they are already working in bringing additional panelists from Spanish-language papers in Dallas and Puerto Rico, which will join the show in Februrary 2009.

At launch, Juego Cruzado can be seen in the U.S., Mexico and Central America and it airs immediately before Cronómentro, the one-on-one news and debate program co-hosted by legendary sportscaster José Ramón Fernández and David Faitelson.