ESPN Buddies Up With Facebook

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ESPN has expanded its presence on Facebook, adding the ESPN3 video player to the social-networking powerhouse's website ahead of college basketball's conference championships and launching a redesigned page for SportsCenter.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Starting Thursday, ESPN will provide live coverage of the NCAA's Championship Week 2012 games directly through Facebook, the first time streaming sports programming from an ESPN network will be available through the site.

In addition, under the terms of the agreement, NCAA teams and conferences will be able to display the ESPN3 player on their official Facebook fan pages to highlight live games for their fans. Replays of recently concluded events will be available as well.

SportsCenter page on Facebook

Meanwhlie, ESPN on Wednesday debuted its new SportsCenter brand page on Facebook, which is designed to let the programmer "better communicate with sports fans interested in connecting with the network's signature sports news and highlights program."

The redesigned SportsCenter page provides photos, video and information on major sports milestones since the show first aired in 1979.

"We wanted to leverage Facebook's new page design and technology to feature great content, and there was no better program for us to highlight historical events than with SportsCenter," ESPN director of business development for social media Michael Cupo said in a statement.

To access the ESPN3 content, Facebook users must receive ESPN3 through an affiliated broadband provider that pays ESPN a fee to carry the service.

The ESPN3 service -- which carries more than 4,000 live events per year -- is available to 72 million homes through participating Internet service providers, with Cablevision Systems the most notable ISP that does not have an ESPN3 agreement.

ESPN3 also is available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks. The service is accessible through Xbox 360 consoles and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app through affiliated providers.

For users who receive ESPN3 through an affiliated Internet service provider, the player will be able to automatically identify them as an authenticated user. Users whose subscription is tied to their video account will be directed to www.watchespn.com to authenticate.

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