In a rare programming partnership, ESPN and Courtroom Television Network will pool their resources to cover the upcoming murder trial of Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Lewis.
While both networks will provide their own staffs for the trial, Court TV will share its legal expertise with ESPN and ESPN will provide sports-related expertise for Court TV as part of the joint venture, representatives from both companies said.
The networks will exchange video, news segments and, where appropriate, promos for the trial, expected to begin sometime this week.
Lewis, a star linebacker for the Ravens, is accused of participating in a brawl outside of an Atlanta nightclub in January that led to the stabbing deaths of two men. Lewis is the first active National Football League player to be tried for murder.
"The agreement gives us the ability to tap their resources on something that's very complicated and, in return, gives them a chance to tap our expertise in the sports field," ESPN executive producer of studio production Norby Williamson said.
While ESPN will not provide the same wall-to-wall coverage of the trial as Court TV, Williamson said, the network's sister service, ESPNews, "will be aggressive in covering the trial when and where it makes sense."
Court TV reporter Clara Tuma will lead the network's coverage, while ESPN's daily coverage will feature reporter Sal Paolantonio. In addition, experts on legal, social and NFL matters will appear regularly on both networks as guest commentators.
"We want to provide the most complete coverage of this trial and the issues surrounding it for viewers of both networks," Court TV senior vice president of programming Sheilagh D'Arcy McGee said. "Our mutual intention is to benefit the viewers, regardless of which network they watch."
In addition, Court TV has hired former NFL players Lynn Swann and Tim Green to aid its coverage of the Lewis trial. Swann, who is currently an ABC Sports commentator, will join Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman to offer expert commentary and discussion about the case.
Green, who is a lawyer, will appear on Court TV's Pros & Cons newsmagazine for the duration of the trial.