ESPN Deportes to Kick Off Scripted Programming


ESPN Deportes will be getting into the scripted-series game,
and its 10-episode offering, soccer drama El
, has already netted a pair of sponsors.

At its May 17 upfront in New York the total sports network's
Spanish-language outlet took the wraps off El
, a 10-episode drama starring Mexican actor Alfonso Herrera as "Chava,"
a young soccer player from Jalisco who becomes an overnight success.

The HD series will begin shooting in July and the network said
it has secured "several sponsors" who will be woven into the series, though it
declined to offer specifics at deadline.

"We are still in the process of closing the deal, but I can
tell you we've signed with an automotive and a [fast-food restaurant] sponsor,"
ESPN Deportes general manager Lino Garcia said.

Shot entirely on location in Mexico, El Diez is scheduled to premiere in October, though ESPN Deportes
has yet to set a time slot, as it wants to avoid conflicts with live events.

El Diez is ESPN
Deportes first original miniseries, but it's not the channel's first foray with
programming outside the live-event, sports-news or sports-commentary realm.

"We've had some very good experiences with films and
documentaries aired in the past," Garcia said. Past efforts have included Fernando Nation, a documentary about
baseball legend Fernando Valenzuela; Los
dos Escobar
, a non-fiction account of Colombian soccer and drug-dealing;
and Lost Son of Havana, a documentary
on Red Sox pitching great Luis Tiant's return to Cuba after 46 years of exile. (The
three documentaries aired on ESPN in English as part of the channel's "30 for
30" series.)

"We have gone further than any other sports channel in the area
[of non-event programming]," Garcia said.

In addition to El Diez,
ESPN Deportes announced a partnership with Time Warner Cable to launch, a Spanish-language site dedicated to covering
sports for that city's local fans.

A co-branded site -- along the lines of the programmer's
English-language Web offerings -- features hyper-local content, in addition to
analysis and opinion. The site launched on May 5 and usage data is not yet
released, but ESPN Deportes has signed three local sponsors: Wells Fargo,
California Lottery and Toyota.

Also this year, ESPN Deportes will be providing exclusive
Spanish-language coverage of the XVI Pan American Games from Guadalajara,
Mexico starting Oct. 14.

It's the second Pan Am effort for the network: It carried the
2007 Pan Am Games from Rio De Janiero, Brazil, back before the channel was