ESPN Trucks Verizon Into ‘King of Fandom’ Promo

ESPN is looking for the biggest live-sports junkie in the country who’s also a Verizon Communications broadband subscriber, as part of a promotion tied to the Sept. 1 relaunch of the video site.

The winner of ESPN and Verizon’s King of Fandom contest will get a one-year lease on a customized Ford F-250 pickup truck, featuring a 36-inch HDTV plasma display and satellite TV service from DirecTV. (ESPN noted that DirecTV is not a contest sponsor, although Verizon resells DirecTV service where it doesn't offer FiOS.)

The truck has six other TV screens, a Dell XPS M1710 laptop, a satellite-based Internet connection from KVH, red LED underbody lighting, limousine tinting, sports tickers along on the truck’s roof, exterior weatherproof speakers, a stainless-steel serving table modeled on ESPN’s SportsCenter desk, a grill-and-refrigerator system and bleacher seating.

The über-fan also will receive $25,000 “to indulge in the definitive sports-event roadtrip,” plus a free year of Verizon broadband Internet service.

The prizes will go to the Verizon broadband customer who racks up the most points answering daily quizzes on between Sept. 1 and 19. The trivia questions are being devised by Howie Schwab, of ESPN’s Stump the Schwab, and will key off live sports programming available on ESPN360.

A larger question is when more cable operators will become ESPN360 super-fans. The site is free to broadband users whose providers have paid a per-subscriber fee to ESPN.

So far the biggest takers have been Verizon and AT&T, though RCN is now on board and Charter Communications offers access to the site in two markets.

Cable ultimately may be swayed by the slew of live programming on the broadband site, as ESPN executives suggested last week at the network’s media day event in Bristol, Conn. 

As part of the revamped strategy for the site, ESPN360 will deliver 2,000 live events in the next 12 months – more than ESPN and ESPN2 combined, according to the programmer. The site’s new features include the ability to view 10 live event simultaneously and a 640-by-360-pixel main viewing window, which can be resized.