Continuing to expand its content base, ESPN360 is offering 267 live sporting events this month.
The schedule includes live game action from the National Basketball Association, college football and basketball, UEFA Champions League soccer, FIFA World Cup beach soccer, NASCAR, Venezuelan and Mexican baseball and Argentine Open Polo Championships.
The diverse sporting palette is part of the September relaunch of ESPN360.com as the home to live and simulcast sports fare. As part of that overhaul, ESPN has committed to airing some 2,500 live sporting events over a 12-month period as a means to build traffic and reach for ESPN360. That total is more than ESPN and ESPN2 combined, according to network officials.
From its relaunch Sept. 4 through Oct. 28, users logged more than 150,000 hours viewing games on the portal, according to officials at the sports programming giant. Asked to gauge that total against the portal’s past performance, a spokeswoman declined, stating that such a comparison wouldn’t be valid, considering the upgrades made to ESPN360.
Currently the service, available at no additional charge to subscribers that receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider, reaches some 17 million households, via deals AT&T, Verizon, RCN, Frontier, Cavalier, Charter, Mediacom, Conway and Grande Communications, among others.
ESPN360 initiated its NBA game presentation on Halloween night with a doubleheader featuring the Dallas Mavericks-Cleveland Cavaliers at 8 p.m. (ET), followed by the Denver Nuggets hosting the Seattle Supersonics at 10:30 p.m. The games were also carried on ESPN Mobile TV. Those contests marked the first exploitation of digital live game rights under the new eight-season, $7.4 billion deals ESPN and TNT signed with the league in late June. While the new contracts officially begin with the 2008-09 season, the NBA pushed up the carriers' digital rights by a season.
As an element within an advertising package deal that also includes a schedule on the network, Nike was the sole sponsor of ESPN360’s delivery of the Oct. 31 twinbill.
As was the case on ESPN, Nike digitally trumpeted the fifth signature shoe, the Zoom LeBron V, from Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron, with a commercial featuring the concluding aspirational copy : “I am LeBron James. You don't want to be me. You want to be better than me.”
The pods within the simulcast doubleheaders also housed promos for ESPN360 and other ESPN properties, according to a network spokeswoman.
Nike was also slated to be included in ESPN’s presentation of Nov. 2 doubleheader -- the Washington Wizards-Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix – and as the sole sponsor of the ESPN360 and ESPN Mobile TV simulcasts.