College Lacrosse: Top-Ranked Notre Dame on ESPNU Saturday

ESPNU will showcase top-ranked Notre Dame at No. 7 Duke on Saturday, April 4, at 5 p.m. Notre Dame stands at 2-0 in first place, while Duke is seeking its first conference win of the season.

Also in action on ESPNU, No. 4 North Carolina faces No. 8 Virginia on Friday, April 3, at 7 p.m. Also on Friday, ESPN3 will show the non-conference matchup between No. 9 Albany at Syracuse, at 7 p.m.

Three women’s games will be shown on ESPN, including two top-20 matchups between No. 2 North Carolina and No. 12 Louisville on Saturday and No. 17 Notre Dame at No. 7 Syracuse on Sunday.

ESPNU & ESPN3 Lacrosse Schedule (subject to change)

Date Time (ET) Games / Commentators Network
Fri, Apr 3 7 p.m. No. 4 North Carolina at No. 8 Virginia
Anish Shroff, Quint Kessenich
ESPNU
  No. 9 Albany at No. 2 Syracuse ESPN3
Sat, Apr 4 10 a.m. Virginia Tech at No. 7 Syracuse (women) ESPN3
  1 p.m. No. 6 Cornell at Harvard ESPN3
4 p.m. No. 2 North Carolina at No. 12 Louisville (women) ESPN3
  5 p.m. No. 1 Notre Dame at No. 7 Duke
Mike Corey, Paul Carcaterra
ESPNU
Tue, Apr 7 4 p.m. No. 12 Marquette at No. 1 Notre Dame ESPN3
  7 p.m. No. 17 Notre Dame at No. 7 Syracuse (women) ESPN3

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NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship: Tampa Bay Welcomes the Four Top Seeds Vying for National Title

Tickets have been punched to the Women’s Final Four from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Fla., featuring the four top seeds in the tournament – UConn, Maryland, Notre Dame and South Carolina. The teams will face off on Sunday, April 5, on ESPN and WatchESPN, beginning with South Carolina vs. Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m., followed by Maryland against UConn at 8:30 p.m. Play culminates with the NCAA Women’s National Championship game on Tuesday, April 7, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Additional NCAA Women’s Final Four content will be available across multiple platforms, including espnW.com, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS and ESPN International.

Women’s Final Four Specials
NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One
: The 30-minute Women’s Final Four preview show will be hosted by Kevin Negandhi with analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, will precede the National Semifinals on Sunday, April 5, at 6 p.m. on ESPN and WatchESPN.

College Basketball Live: Women’s National Championship Special: The 90-minute special, hosted by Matt Schick with analysts Steffi Sorensen and Brooke Weisbrod, on Tuesday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU and WatchESPN will highlight and preview the Women’s National Championship title game.

NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One: ESPN and WatchESPN will tip off the National Championship game coverage with an hour-long preview, also hosted by Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo, from Amalie Arena on Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m.

WatchESPN is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four Schedule (subject to change)

Sun, Apr 5 6 p.m. NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Kevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo
ESPN / WatchESPN
  6:30 p.m. National Semifinal Game 1 – No. 1 seed South Carolina vs. No. 1 seed Notre Dame (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe
ESPN / WatchESPN
  9 p.m. National Semifinal Game 2 – No. 1 seed Maryland vs. No. 1 seed Connecticut (Tampa Bay, Fla.) ESPN / WatchESPN
Tue, Apr 7 5:30 p.m. College Basketball Live: NCAA Women’s Championship Special
Matt Schick, Brooke Weisbrod & Steffi Sorensen
ESPNU / WatchESPN
  7:30 p.m. NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Kevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo
ESPN / WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. National Final – Semifinal winners (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe
ESPN / WatchESPN

 

Jason Sobel Returns to ESPN as Senior Golf Writer

Just in time for the Masters Tournament, award-winning golf writer Jason Sobel is returning to ESPN and will be part of ESPN.com’s coverage team when golf’s first major tees off next week at Augusta National Golf Club.

CROPPED Jason

As senior golf writer for ESPN Digital & Print Media, Sobel will contribute news, reaction and commentary year-round, contribute to ESPN The Magazine and lead live interactive coverage around major golf events. In addition, he will contribute reports and analysis to SportsCenter and other ESPN news platforms from selected events and as breaking news warrants.

After stints at two daily newspapers, Sobel joined ESPN’s studio production department in 1997, where he won four Sports Emmy Awards. He became ESPN.com’s golf editor in 2004, and then a columnist/blogger in 2008, before leaving ESPN in 2011 to become a senior writer for GolfChannel.com.

During his career, Sobel has received eight awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, including two first-place writing awards. He grew up in Islip, N.Y., and attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Sobel joins the ESPN.com golf team that includes senior writer Bob Harig and senior analyst Michael Collins. Harig, Collins and Sobel will be joined at the Masters by ESPN.com national columnist Gene Wojciechowski and ESPN.com senior writer Ian O’Connor.

Sobel is on Twitter as @JasonSobelESPN.

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Media contact: [email protected]

ESPN Live From Indianapolis for Men’s Final Four Beginning April 2

  • Four Days Live Set Presence from Site of Final Four
  • ESPN International Telecasts of Semifinals and National Championship
  • ESPN Radio Saturday Programs in Indianapolis
  • ESPNU Review and Preview Shows

ESPN’s extensive on-site coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Final Four will include multiplatform studio content from a set in the Pan American Plaza in downtown Indianapolis – located near the site of the semifinals and championship at Lucas Oil Stadium – and live game telecasts across ESPN’s International networks.

Live from Indy… SportsCenter, College GameDay and more
ESPN’s on-site presence from Indianapolis will include daily analysis, news, reports, and interviews across multiple platforms from Thursday, April 2, to Tuesday, April 7. Highlights:

  • SportsCenter from Indianapolis: In addition to segments in every show, entire editions of SportsCenter will originate from the set in Indianapolis’ Pan American Plaza on Friday, April 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. ET; Sunday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to noon; and Monday, April 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. ESPN will also provide extensive post-game coverage following the semifinals and championship.
  • Game day GameDay shows: ESPN will offer two day-of-game editions of College GameDay Covered by State Farm forCollege GameDay - November 18, 2014 the semifinals and championship: a two-and-a-half hour show on ESPN Saturday, April 4, at 3:30 p.m. previewing the National Semifinal matchups and a two-hour Championship preview on ESPN2 Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. This season’s College GameDay began in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Nov. 18, for the fourth annual State Farm Champions Classic. The neutral-site, early-season doubleheader matches four of the winningest programs against each other – Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State – with three of the teams participating in the upcoming Final Four.
  • Anchors, analysts and reporters: Rece Davis will serve as the lead host for SportsCenter and College GameDay segments from Indianapolis and be joined by ESPN basketball analysts Shane Battier, Jay Bilas, Jim Calhoun, Dan Dakich, Seth Greenberg, Dick Vitale and Jay Williams. Additional anchors in Indianapolis to host SportsCenter coverage include John Anderson, Steve Levy, David Lloyd, Sara Walsh and Bram Weinstein. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith will contribute across platforms from Indianapolis while ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and reporters Shannon Spake and Kaylee Hartung will provide news and updates from Indianapolis. Katz will also interview the head coaches of the teams in the championship game for SportsCenter on Sunday, April 5.
  • Practices and press conferences: ESPN will also cover the final four team practices and press conferences from the venue on Friday, April 3.
  • The Sports Reporters: ESPN’s Sunday studio show will air live from Indianapolis April 5 at 9:30 a.m.
  • College GameDay content: Both College GameDay shows will showcase feature segments, including Gene Wojciechowski reporting on the impact legendary Villanova coach Rollie Massimino still has in the lives of the players on his Wildcats team 30 years after he led them to the historic NCAA Championship. In addition, Indiana native Larry Bird will voice various elements connecting the Final Four with Indiana’s basketball history.

Final Four Games Around the World
2002 EXPN Invitational - April 8, 2013ESPN International will televise the semifinals (Saturday, April 4, beginning at 6 p.m.) and championship (Monday, April 6) to fans in 179 countries and territories across 26 networks outside the United States. Dan Shulman will call all three games, pairing with analyst Jay Bilas on the second semifinal and Dick Vitale for the first semifinal and championship.

ESPN International networks will provide coverage in Latin America (Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America), Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and via TSN and RDS in Canada. Additionally, worldwide, ESPN Syndication has completed deals to distribute the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to local television clients reaching tens of millions of homes in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan and across Southeast Asia. ESPN broadband services around the world – under the ESPN Player, ESPN Play and ESPN3 brands – are also providing live and on-demand coverage of some, or all, of the tournament in more than 50 countries in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Australia.

ESPNU Monday Lineup
ESPNU will provide extensive coverage in advance of the title game on Monday, April 6, including as part of its Tournament Countdown programming, on Monday, April 6:

  • The Experts show at 1 p.m. will include a panel of ESPN analysts reviewing the National Semifinals and previewing the National Championship.
  • A special Tournament Countdown: Katz Korner at 4 p.m.
  • Back-to-back 30-minute editions of Tournament Countdown: Road to the Championship will highlight the journey of the teams to the National Championship at 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • A special Tournament Countdown: College Basketball Live from ESPN’s Charlotte studios will air at 5:30 p.m.

ESPN Radio in Indy
ESPN Radio’s weekend shows Dickerson & Hood (Saturday, 7 to 11 p.m.), hosted by Jeff Dickerson and Jonathan Hood, and Lupica (Sunday, 9 to 11 a.m.), hosted by Mike Lupica, will originate from Indianapolis.

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ESPN Launching New ESPN.com on Site’s 20th Anniversary

  • 1 sports website in the world now fully responsive across platforms and devices
  • New global product and technology architecture powers new levels of speed and functionality
  • New UK edition – ESPN.co.uk – launches simultaneously
  • Chevrolet on board as launch sponsor

Images available here.

Tomorrow ESPN launches a new ESPN.com, a website that has been re-engineered to deliver a more personal, elegant and lively sports experience to fans with greater personalization and functional design across devices – anytime, anywhere.

15034707ISG_WES_3Device_HOMEPAGE[1]Already the world’s largest sports website as measured by reach and engagement, ESPN will, for the first time, publish its flagship digital property in “editions” – launching in the U.S. and U.K. simultaneously, with multiple versions to roll out over the next 12 to 18 months.

The new ESPN.com is responsively designed to adjust to the user’s device and platform and its creation incorporates feedback from sports fans during extensive research and testing. The design is the result of a mobile-first approach that allows ESPN.com to deliver a consistent experience for sports fans on computer, tablet or handset.

Built on a completely new technology infrastructure and engineered to deliver sports content at real-time speed, the new ESPN.com will enable ESPN content groups to continue to serve fans with sports scores, news, and powerful storytelling in innovative ways.

“Digital media is more important than ever to ESPN, and this new platform for our sites and content will let us to do more than ever before to serve fans globally, locally and personally,” said John Skipper, President, ESPN and co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “Through hard work, smart risk-taking and a consistent belief and embrace of the internet and other emerging platforms and technologies ESPN has established and maintained a lasting leadership in an industry that changes, seemingly, by the week.”

Added John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN Digital and Print Media, who has led the ESPN.com since 2003, “Our digital, technology and design teams have created a new ESPN.com that is elegant, intuitive and fast. Our product and technology teams have built a global platform that allows our content creators to program locally in any market and make the most of all the ways in which fans consume sports. It is purposefully familiar to our native ESPN app and shares aesthetic elements with other ESPN TV and print experiences. And this is just the beginning – a first stage of an iterative approach that will allow us to continue to enhance ESPN.com over time.”

Notably, the new site debuts new levels of personalization and the “ESPN Now” section as central pillars to the user experience, alongside ESPN’s leading news, feature, analysis and commentary.

The ESPN Now section is powered by a dedicated editorial team, charged with capturing and curating a stream of up-to-the-minute sports moments and conversations as they’re happening. Content in ESPN Now includes short, snackable content including breaking news, must-see and in-game video, audio clips, social responses, insightful statistics from ESPN Stats & Info and more, all of which are easily shareable. First introduced in the ESPN App, ESPN Now provides a way to capture the immediacy of sports today, while maintaining the editorial standard required by ESPN.

The new site also introduces a powerful new personalization engine to the site, allowing each individual fan to always have direct access to the content that matters most in a dedicated way alongside the main news section and “Now.”

The simultaneous launch of and the new UK edition of the site (ESPN.co.uk), marks the first of multiple editions outside the U.S. It is a result of a global foundation of technology and product development that will power multiple sites with locally relevant and personalized content driven by ESPN teams around the world. This approach of building globally and programming locally allows ESPN to serve sports fans anytime, anywhere with a consistent, personal experience on a worldwide scale.

ESPN: 20 Years on the Web

TIMELINE:  Take a look back at key moments in ESPN.com’s two decades of history.

The re-launch of ESPN.com marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN’s debut on the web at www.ESPNSportsZone.com, through a collaboration with Starwave, on April 1, 1995. Since then, the growth of the site has been astounding.

In 1998, ESPN.com saw 1.2 million visits per day, making it the most-visited sports website in the U.S.  In 2014, ESPN.com saw 24.7 million visits in the average day, and more than 9 billion across the entire year. On a recent day this year – March 10, 2015, the first day of NFL free agency – ESPN.com had 2.3 million visits in one hour (4:00 pm and 5:00 pm ET).

In January 2015, ESPN digital properties – which include content across web, apps and video – had 126.5 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, the most ever in the global sports category. Between June 2014 and January 2015, ESPN digital content reached more than 100 million global unique visitors each month, making it the No. 1 digital sports property in the world.

ESPN.com 20th Anniversary Content

Celebrating its first 20 years online, ESPN.com began this week a series of articles, Top 20 rankings and visual galleries that tell the story of the site’s origins and how it has evolved over the last two decades, as well as a look ahead to the next 20 years.

20th anniversary content on the site includes a gallery of screenshots looking back at ESPN.com’s design through the years, an info graphic that explores the data behind the site, and an essay by Steve Wulf, a former editor at ESPN The Magazine and one of the first contributors to ESPN.com, who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of ESPN.com.

Top 20 lists from the ESPN.com staff include rankings of the top athletes, news stories, moments in sports, teams and more over the last 20 years. Looking ahead, FiveThirtyEight.com will examine the odds of various sports records being broken in the next 20 years.

ESPN Audio will also produce a special edition podcast exploring the site’s history and the broader theme of the impact of the Internet on sports over the past 20 years.

Advertising

The new ESPN.com will allow ESPN to continue to push digital advertising industry forward and provide greater scope for flexibility and innovation. It will be a showcase for advertisers and marketers with impactful new ad units, prominent video placements and the ability to deliver seamless solutions for advertisers across devices while leveraging the strengths of sports and ESPN – the live experience, video, mobile, social and scale.

Chevrolet is an advertising sponsor for the launch of the US site.  ESPN is working with a range of other advertisers who will be unveiling new creative on the site in the coming days and weeks.

Advertising on the site was designed to deliver high-impact units and effective solutions for advertisers based on a new Universal Advertising Package (UAP), which offers the best advertising experience for each device, screen and orientation. The approach streamlines creative delivery and ad serving on the new ESPN, and ensures the best representation for brands, no matter the device. The move is designed to enable advertisers to take advantage of the increased effectiveness of multiplatform campaigns compared to single-platform.

When advertisers provide a full slate of UAP assets, Ads will be synched on the page – only one advertiser will feature on a page at any one time – meaning brands will no longer compete for attention against other advertisers. Advertising will also be integrated into the site to make them as viewable as possible, rather than sitting outside the navigation and editorial content.

ESPN.com 20th Anniversary Timeline

1995 ESPNSportsZone.com launches on April 1.
ESPNSportsZone.com has 549,406 page views in June.
1996 ESPNSportsZone.com launches GameCast “with high-tech bells and whistles: a Java-based box seat with live scoreboards, pitch count in baseball games, and plenty of instantly updated stats.”
1997 The Walt Disney Company purchases an equity stake in Starwave Corporation, co-producer of ESPNSportsZone.com.
ESPN Internet Ventures is formed.
ESPNSportsZone.com has a record 846,450 visits on Nov. 18 during the Major League Baseball expansion draft.
1998 ESPN SportsZone is renamed ESPN.com, and the site is re-designed “for quicker access to content across its pages.”
ESPN.com renews agreements to produce the official online sites of the NFL, NBA and NASCAR, while it continues to set new marks for record usage.
ESPN.com averages 4.3 million unique users per month and 1.2 million visitors per day, making it the most-visited sports website in the U.S.
1999 ESPN acquires a majority stake in Soccernet.com. The remainder is purchased in 2000.
ESPN’s NFL season begins with accompanying Enhanced TV via ESPN.com.
ESPNstore.com is relaunched with 10x increase in product offering.
2000 ESPN.com is awarded a Webby Award for sports.
Dan Patrick launches his own site within ESPN.com featuring commentary and interviews.
ESPN.com debuts Page 2, “a sometimes less-than-serious, fresh and different take on sports featuring contributions from ESPN personalities, as well as celebrities and writers.”
ESPNdeportes.com is launched.
2001 ESPN.com is named the Top Sports Web Site in Sports Business Journal’s first annual New Media Awards.
ESPN To Go Pagers – offering breaking news, scores, stats, injury reports and more – are made available via ESPN.com.
ESPN.com and MSN announce ESPN.com will be the exclusive sports content provider for the MSN sports channel.
ESPN.com concludes its most popular month ever with 10.9 million unique visitors, an increase of 67 percent over November 2000.
2002 SportsNation debuts on ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
ESPN.com launches ESPN Motion, “an innovative feature allowing broadband users to view high-quality video on the site’s home page automatically each day.”
ESPN.com sets a new usage record in October: 15.4 million unique visitors.
ESPN.com presents its first live event webcast: Miami at Rutgers college football game.
2003 ESPN Motion debuts on ESPN.com and is installed by more than 1 million users in the first 10 days, 2 million by end of year.
ESPN.com is chosen Best of the Web for sports by Forbes Magazine.
ESPN.com receives a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists for the “Blood on the Rings” series, which chronicled stories of abuse of Iraqi athletes.
2004 ESPN.com’s William Nack’s “No, Not Again” about thoroughbred racer Ferdinand is the only online story chosen for The Best American Sportswriting.
ESPN.com launches ESPN Poker Club, which includes an editorial section and game on ESPN.com, a wireless game and consumer products.
2005 ESPN.com marks its 10th anniversary.
For every month of its first 10 years, ESPN.com was the No. 1 site for user traffic.
ESPN.com announces that its Fantasy Football games will be free.
2006 ESPN.com and NBCOlympics.com announce editorial collaboration and co-promotion of online coverage for the Winter Olympics, the first time a non-rights holding media company has Olympic video highlights.
EXPN.com and ESPN360.com see record usage during X Games 10, as well as the first-ever distribution via Mobile ESPN and iPods.
ESPN.com launches PodCenter, “a library of digital audio and video content from ESPN’s TV, radio and online outlets to download or play on computer.”
ESPN.com wins the first-ever non-traditional platform Emmy for its Off Mikes series.
ESPN.com debuts an integrated online multimedia player, providing “a single interface for all existing and future online video services.”
ESPNU.com is launched.
The debut of Monday Night Football on ESPN earns the network’s biggest audience ever and the second largest in cable history (9,177,000 homes) for Minnesota at Washington. ESPN.com records a record 36 million page views.
ESPN.com wins the Online Journalism Award in the category “Specialty Journalism” for ESPN Insider.
2007 ESPN.com debuts SportsCenter Minute, “a video digest of the day’s sports headlines with highlights and scores published on the home page by 6 a.m. ET.”
ESPN acquires Jayski.com, one of the fastest-growing and influential NASCAR web sites.
ESPNRadio.com is re-launched, “delivering live 24/7 streaming of ESPN Radio’s national programming and all five of ESPN’s owned stations.”
ESPNsoccernet.com, “the world’s leading English-language football website” launches versions in French and German, followed by Spanish and Italian.
ESPN purchases Cricinfo.com, the world’s leading cricket website.
A new programming strategy for ESPN360.com brings more than 2,000 live events throughout the year.
ESPN acquires Scrum.com, a leading rugby website.
2008 ESPN.com enters into an agreement with Major League Gaming (MLG) to serve as a primary outlet for MLG news, plus exclusive streamed matches.
ESPN.com acquires HoopGurlz.com, “the foremost web site focused on high school girls’ basketball and college women’s basketball on a national basis.”
ESPN.com announces it will make short-form videos — highlights and segments from original programming — accessible directly through AOL Video and AOL Sports, “the first time ESPN has syndicated video content through an Internet portal.”
ESPN acquires Student Sports, Inc., a high school-focused digital media and event production company.
June marks the biggest month ever for ESPN360.com, with 3 million video streams and average time viewing that exceeds three hours, five times the industry average.
ESPNRise.com launches as a news, information and community resource for high school athletes.
ESPN360.com launches in Great Britain, with free news, highlights, analysis and interviews from the NHL, MLB, NFL, golf, tennis and X Games, along with subscription packages for live event programming.
Streak For the Cash is launched.
2009 ESPN.com debuts a redesigned home page with “a cleaner design, a richer video experience, and enhanced Scoreboards, personalization and advertising.”
ESPNChicago.com launches, followed by Boston and Dallas in September, and Los Angeles in December.
ESPN360.com becomes available on Comcast.net and expands rights to Wimbledon, nearly doubling its hours of live programming.
ESPN360.com, ESPN.com and ESPNRadio.com each enjoy record highs in September. Compared to September 2008, ESPN360 is up 250 percent in viewing hours, ESPN.com minutes online are up 54 percent, and hours of audio heard on ESPNRadio are up 61 percent.
ESPN’s ScoreCenter app launches.
2010 ESPN.com visitors watched nearly 1.4 billion videos for the year or nearly 115 million streams per month.
ESPN Insider surpasses 500,000 subscribers.
ESPNNewYork.com debuts.
ESPN360.com is renamed ESPN3.com and is relaunched with enhanced video and functionality for news, stats interactivity and sharing on social media.
ESPN3.com and Microsoft announce live events and on-demand highlights and news will be available on the Xbox 360 console for LIVE Gold members.
ESPN3.com delivers nearly 4,300 live events.
The Germany-Spain semifinal in the FIFA World Cup is ESPN3.com’s most popular event ever with an average minute audience of 355,000. The month-long event drives tremendous traffic to all of ESPN’s digital properties.
ESPN ScoreCenter app for iPhone and Android reaches 13 million total downloads.
ESPNRadio.com remains the most listened to live stream of any terrestrial broadcaster in the world.
Bill Simmon’ BS Report podcast logs more than 42 million downloads.
In collaboration with social game developer Playdom, ESPN launches “ESPN College Town” on Facebook.
2011 The WatchESPN App launches, allowing smartphone and tablet access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com for subscribers to Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are the first live, streaming cable channels available on mobile devices in the U.S.
ESPN.com leads the sports category with 3.3 billion total minutes per month and captures nearly a third (32 percent) of all minutes spent with sports sites online.
Fans watch nearly 1.9 billion videos on ESPN.com.
WatchESPN.com is launched; ESPN3.com is renamed ESPN3.
Grantland.com is launched.
ESPN sends 8.8 billion alerts (up 251 percent over 2010) to more than 11 million active subscribers.
Bill Simmon’ BS Report podcast logs more than 92 million downloads, up 120 percent over 2010.
ESPN’s second social game on Facebook, “ESPN Bar & Grill”, surpasses 1.2 million monthly active users in its first six weeks.
ESPN International acquires footytips.com.au, a popular site in Australia for competitive sports predictions.
2012 ESPN.com bolsters its No. 1 position in the sports category with an average minute audience of 74,562 (64 percent higher than its closest competitor), 3.3 billion total minutes per month (nearly 30 percent of all minutes spent with sports sites online) and total unique video viewers that are 34 percent higher than its closest competitor.
During the World Twenty20 Championship, ESPNcricinfo globally across all platforms logs an average minute audience of 80,000 (four times greater than the 2010 tournament).
WatchESPN signs four additional distribution deals – Comcast, Cablevision, Cox and Charter – making WatchESPN available to seven of the top 10 multichannel video programming distributors nationwide.
Distribution for WatchESPN increased to 46 million, while ESPN3 grows to 83 million households nationwide.
ESPN’s ScoreCenter app surpasses 40 million total downloads.
Men’s Tournament Challenge bracket game logs more than 6.45 million brackets.
ESPN recognizes the 40th anniversary of Title IX with a multi-platform initiative called “The Power of IX,” which debuts on espnW.com.
For every month of the year, ESPN Digital Media ranks No. 1 in the digital sports category for average minute audience, share of category audience, total minutes of usage, total visits, and male unique visitors.
2013 ESPN Digital Media reaches 72.7 million unique users in September, the most ever in the sports category, while also surpassing 8.0 billion visits through the year.
ESPN acquires FiveThirtyEight.com, and renowned statistician Nate Silver joins ESPN, returning to his sports roots while expanding his approach to include culture, economics, technology and politics.
ESPN Digital Media accounts for nearly a third (31 percent) of all Sports category usage across digital platforms, more than the Nos. 2 and 3 sports properties combined.
ESPN ScoreCenter app is overhauled and relaunched as the SportsCenter app.
ESPN.com agrees to multi-year agreement with Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will become the exclusive eCommerce provider for the ESPN Fan Shop.
espnW launches a redesigned, utilizing responsive design and a time-based feed that simplifies navigation and enhances the user experience across screens.
After just one year, ESPNFC.com becomes the No. 1 soccer-specific site in the U.S.
ESPNcricinfo averages nearly 2 million daily visitors.
ESPN ends the year with 24.5 million Facebook fans.
2014 ESPN Digital Media enjoys the most prolific year ever in the digital sports category.
ESPN averages 76.8 million unique visitors per month, 14.1 million more than No. 2 property Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network.
ESPN averages 18.4 million unique users, 7.2 million more than No. 2 Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network, which averaged 11.2 million.
Sports fans visit ESPN Digital Media products 9.97 billion times over the course of the year – over 1 billion visits more than the Nos. 2 and 3 properties combined (Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network at 5.58 billion and Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network at 3.17 billion).
ESPN establishes a new sports category high for monthly unique visitors three times (June, August and September).
ESPN’s traffic in seven months of the year account for the top seven months all-time in the sports category for monthly unique visitors: September (94.0MM), November (90.8MM), October (89.1MM), December (88.4MM), August (82.4MM), June (80.7MM), and July (74.8MM).
ESPN’s portfolio of mobile apps averages 21.7 million monthly unique users, nearly three times the average monthly reach of the No. 2 app portfolio, NFL Internet Group (7.9 million).
Viewers stream WatchESPN programming for 12.9 billion minutes, 7.2 billion more minutes than the year before (up 126 percent).
FiveThirtyEight.com is launched.
ESPN Fantasy Football remains No. 1 with 7.5 million players, 25 million transactions per week, and 47 million alerts pers week.
ESPN’s Fantasy Football App reaches more than 11 million total downloads and sets an all-time record for minutes of usage with 1.7 billion minutes in September.
Celebrating its 5th anniversary, espnW.com more than doubles, peaking in September with 7.6 million users.
2015 ESPN App for iPad is launched.
ESPN Tournament Challenge game collects a record 11.57 million brackets from college basketball fans.

ESPN Digital Media Averages 19 Million U.S. Fans Per Day in February, 75 Million Total

Daily users are up 10 million compared to February 2014; 33 percent share of sports category is more than Nos. 2, 3 and 4 properties combined; Nearly one third of ESPN’s unique users exclusively access content on smartphones and tablets.

ESPN Digital Media reached 74.7 million unique visitors in the U.S. in February, up 32 percent from a year ago. This marked the ninth-largest monthly total in sports category history, topping ESPN’s total in September 2013, a category record at that time, by over 2 million. ESPN’s June 2014 through February 2015 now comprise the top nine monthly unique visitor totals in sports category history.

Although February is historically among the lowest-trafficked months in the sports category each year, ESPN reached 18.5 million U.S. people daily across devices, up from 9.6 million a year ago, and more than the Nos. 2 and 3 sports properties combined (Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network at 9.7 million, Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network at 7.9 million). 25 percent of ESPN’s total monthly users visited the property on a daily basis, a higher daily return rate than all but one of the fifteen top sports category properties.

DigitalStats15.2

On mobile devices alone, 57.3 million unique users accessed ESPN web and app content, up from 37.8 million a year ago. ESPN mobile visitors generated 3.2 billion minutes of usage, more than the next five mobile sports properties combined.

62 percent of ESPN’s unique users – 46.3 million people – exclusively accessed content on smartphones and tablets. This is the 11th consecutive month that more than half of ESPN’s digital users came only from mobile devices.

Fans spent 5.6 billion minutes using ESPN digital properties, a sports category record for the month of February, and up 34 percent from a year ago. Overall, ESPN accounted for 33.2 percent of all sports category usage on digital platforms, more than the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 properties combined (Yahoo! Sports-NBC Sports Network had 13.1 percent, Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network, 9.5 percent, and Fox Sports Digital-Sporting News Media, 9.4 percent).

More results from the February comScore Multi-Platform report:

  • ESPN reached 3.5 million millennial male unique visitors (males aged 18-34) in the average day, ranking 14th among the nearly 18,000 U.S. digital properties reported by comScore.
  • 58 percent of all time spent with ESPN digital content was consumed by mobile device users, the 10th consecutive month that smartphones and tablets contributed a larger share of usage to ESPN’s digital total than desktop and laptop computers.
  • 1 million people used ESPN.com across devices, up 27 percent from a year ago, with 38.7 million people visiting ESPN.com via smartphones and tablets.
  • ESPN accounted for two of the top three sports apps on smartphones and tablets in February. The ESPN app topped the category for unique visitors (13.0 million), accompanied by No. 3 WatchESPN (5.6 million).
  • ESPN’s portfolio of apps generated 2.0 billion minutes of usage, more than the next five properties combined, and accounted for 47 percent of all time spent with apps in the sports category.

Additional results from ESPN Research & Analytics:

  • 3 million unique devices streamed WatchESPN and ESPN3 content in February (up 27 percent from a year ago), as viewers spent 729 million minutes with programming across all platforms (up 52 percent).1
  • ESPN3 was the second most-streamed network on the WatchESPN platform (trailing only ESPN) with 164 million minutes of viewing.1
  • Fans watched 376.9 million ESPN digital video clips in February across all touch points, up 19 percent from a year ago.1
  • 70 percent of all ESPN platform clips (329.1 million) were viewed on computers, 24 percent on phones and tablets, and 5 percent on connected TVs.1
  • ESPN networks and ABC sports television content generated 7.5 million tweets in February, accounting for 8 percent of all TV-related activity during the month.2

Other key social media metrics:

  • 9 million unique authors wrote tweets about ESPN/ABC Sports content, representing 20 percent of those tweeting about TV in February.2
  • ESPN’s top Twitter accounts were retweeted or favorited 12.0 million times. ESPN’s Twitter accounts have 47 million unique followers.3
  • November ended with the ESPN Facebook page counting 13.9 million fans, while the SportsCenter page totaled 11.6 million fans. ESPN maintains 10 pages that each have more than 2 million fans.4

1 Source: Adobe Analytics
2 Source: Nielsen SocialGuide
3 Source: Twitter
4 Source: Facebook

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College Basketball Recruiting: ESPN to Showcase the Next Generation in Marquee Events Throughout April

McDonald’s All American Game, DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals, Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic All Feature ESPN 100 Players; Players in the espnW Hoop Girlz 100 Also Televised in McDonalds Game and DICK’S Nationals

ESPN will showcase the next generation of college basketball players in premier events between Monday, March 31, and Friday, April 17, as the 2014-15 high school basketball season concludes.

Each of the events — McDonald’s All American Game (April 1), DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals (April 2-4), Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and Jordan Brand Classic (April 17) — will all feature numerous ESPN 100 players, including No. 1 overall Ben Simmons (Montverde. Fla.) who has signed with LSU. Many top recruits remain uncommitted — including six of the top 10 in the ESPN 100 — and will participate in at least one events. With that said, Arizona, Duke, Florida State, Illinois, Kentucky, LSU, Memphis, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, and Villanova, among other schools, will have signees also participating.

An NBA feel will surround the events, as the two all-star games will take place in NBA arenas – United Center in Chicago (McDonalds), and Barclays Center (Jordan Brand Classic) – while the Nike Hoop Summit will take place in the Moda Center in Portland and the DICK’s Nationals will conclude at Madison Square Garden.

Event Details and Television Coverage

  • 2015 McDonald’s All American Games, POWERADE Jam Fest in Chicago, Ill.: Monday, March 30, at 8 p.m. on ESPN2

    • Girls and boys McDonald’s All Americans participate in a skills and three-point shooting competition. The boys will also participate in a slam dunk competition. The annual event is a prelude to the McDonald’s All American Game. More information can be found here:
  • 2015 McDonald’s All American Games from the United Center in Chicago, Ill: Wednesday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU (girls) and 9 p.m. on ESPN (boys)

    • All 24 participants in the boys McDonald’s All American Game rank in the ESPN 100 led by No. 1 Simmons. Seven of the top 10 in ESPN 100 will play including No. 2 Jaylen Brown (SF) and No. 4 Malik Newman (SG), No. 6 Ivan Rabb (PF), No. 7 Diamond Stone (C), No. 8 Caleb Swanigan (C), and No. 10 Stephen Zimmerman (C), all who remain uncommitted. No. 9 Chase Jeter (C), who has signed with Duke, will also participate. Full roster here
    • More than 20 espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 players will participate in the girls McDonald’s All American Game, led by No. 1 Katie Lou Samuelson and No. 2 Asia Durr, who have committed to Connecticut and Louisville respectively. Full roster here
    • ESPNU will also televise the McDonald’s Boy’s Scrimmage on Tuesday, March 31, at 3 p.m. ET.
    • For the girls game, Adam Amin and Brooke Weisbrod will be on the call, with Quint Kessenich reporting. For the boys, Amin will be joined alongside Jay Williams and Jalen Rose, with Kessenich also reporting.

 

  • 2015 DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals from New York City, Championship in Madison Square Garden: Thursday, April 2, through Saturday, April 4, across ESPNU, ESPN2 and ESPN

    • Returning to New York City, the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals features impressive fields in both the boys’ (eight teams) and girls’ (four teams) tournament. The boys’ tournament will feature six of the top seven teams in the USA Today High School Super 25 rankings, including No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and No. 2 Montverde Academy, who won last year’s tournament. Additionally, 12 ESPN 100 players will participate in their final game with their high school team.
    • The girls’ tournament will feature three ranked teams in the USA Today High School Girls Super 25, including No. 3 Dillard High School (Fla.) and No. 7 Miami Country Day (Fla.). No. 16 Gonzaga (Wash.) and South Shore (N.Y.) round out the field.
    •  Complete tournament information can be found here:
  • 2015 Nike Hoop Summit – USA Basketball Junior National Select Team vs. World Select Team from the Moda Center in Portland, Ore.: Saturday, April 11, at 3 p.m. on ESPN2

    • Eight of the top 10, including five of the top six – Simmons, Brown, Skal Labissiere, Newman, and Rabb — in the ESPN 100 will participate in the annual international showcase game featuring many of the world’s leading basketball players age 19 years old or younger. Overall, more than a dozen ESPN 100 players will participate.
    • The USA Basketball Junior National Select Team’s roster includes seniors who have signed at Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, and Villanova, while the World Select Team’s roster includes signees for LSU and Kentucky. Fourteen participating players have not committed to a college. More information: Click Here
  • 2015 Jordan Brand Classic from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Friday April 17, at 8 p.m. on ESPN2

    • The final all-star game for high school seniors features each of the top six in the ESPN 100 and 26 top recruits all together.
    • Participating players have signed with Arizona, Duke, Florida State, Illinois, Kentucky, LSU, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, and Villanova. Seven of the participating players remain uncommitted. More information: Click here
    • ESPN3 will carry both the International (1:30 p.m.) and the Girls (3:30 p.m.) games this year
  • College Basketball Signing Day Special: Tuesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. on ESPNU

    • ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi will be in-studio to evaluate the incoming freshmen class for top teams.

More details to be announced as date approaches

ESPN High School Basketball Programming Schedule (March 30 – April 21)

Date Time (ET) Event Location Network
Mon, March 30 8 p.m. 2015 McDonald’s All American Games, POWERADE Jam Fest Chicago, Ill. ESPN2
Tuesday, March 31 3 p.m. 2015 McDonald’s All American Scrimmage (boys) Chicago, Ill. ESPNU
Wed, April 1 Girls: 6:30 p.m.
Boys: 9:30 p.m.
McDonald’s All-American Games The United Center in Chicago, Ill. Girls: ESPNU
Boys: ESPN
Thurs, April 2 – Sat, April 4 Tournament Schedule DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals Christ the King High School & Madison Square Garden in New York ESPNU, ESPN2 & ESPN
Sat, April 11 3 p.m. 2015 Nike Hoop Summit Moda Center in Portland, Ore. ESPN2
Friday, April 17 1:30 p.m. Jordan Brand Classic
International Game
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. ESPN3
3:30 p.m. Jordan Brand Classic
Girls Game
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. ESPN3
8 p.m. Jordan Brand Classic Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. ESPN2
Tues, April 21 6 p.m. ESPNU Signing Day Special ESPNU Studios ESPNU

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Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

Transcript: ESPN / Tennis Conference Call with Fernandez, Gilbert

ESPN tennis analysts Mary Joe Fernandez and Brad Gilbert spoke with media today on a wide range of tennis topics. Currently, ESPN3 is providing live all-day coverage from the three main stadiums at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, with ESPN television joining for 25 hours starting Wednesday, April 1, through the weekend’s women’s and men’s championships.

Soundbites:

The struggles of Rafael Nadal, and his candid self-assessment:

  • Rafa has always been a very straightforward, honest individual. He doesn’t really mince his words, and what he feels, he pretty much lays it all out there. For him to come out, I think that’s what he is going through right now. He missed a lot with injuries towards the end of last year, and beginning of this year he feels uptight. He needs a lot of matches. He needs to really have the reps. He’s got to practice well on the court and then he’s got to get through these matches to get his confidence back up, and right now because he’s not confident, he’s tight and he’s nervous.” – Fernandez
  • You know, he’s a couple months away from being 29, but he’s a 29‑year old, about to be, that’s played a ton of tennis and had lots of injuries… exactly what Mary Joe said, he needs to play, he needs the confidence, and I think that we’ll know a lot more about Rafa upcoming in the next two months on the clay court season to see where he’s at. But at 28, almost 29, I’m sure he’s still got a lot of good tennis left in him, but just everyone probably just expected, every time he has gotten injured, he’s come right back, and it hasn’t been as easy so far this time.” – Gilbert

The solid play of Sloane Stephens:

  • Her intensity is higher. I feel that she is using her great athletic ability to defend, but she’s also looking to use her forehand, and that’s her big weapon. So it just looks like it’s all coming back together, like she’s playing the right way for her game, she’s playing to her strengths a little bit more consistently, and she seems much more engaged point to point.” – Fernandez
  • One, she’s got her passion back for being on the court. She just didn’t look like for a while that she wanted to be there. Secondly, I think that Madison having the big result in Australia, all of a sudden kind of put the talk that maybe, you know, that there was all these others that were passing her by, and I think that remotivated her because she seems to really have her game, energy, some fist pumping and enjoying to be out there. And lastly, I think a big thing for her is that Nick Saviano, who did a great job last year coaching Genie Bouchard, and I know has worked in the past with Sloane when she was a teenager now is traveling, I believe, with her full‑time. Nick knows the ladies’ game as good as anybody.” – Gilbert

Q- Wondering what either of you makes about what’s going on with Nadal, not just his results but also what he had to say about his nerves after yesterday’s loss to Verdasco.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Rafa has always been a very straightforward, honest individual. He doesn’t really mince his words, and what he feels, he pretty much lays it all out there. For him to come out, I think that’s what he is going through right now. He missed a lot with injuries towards the end of last year, and beginning of this year he feels uptight. He needs a lot of matches. He needs to really have the reps. He’s got to practice well on the court and then he’s got to get through these matches to get his confidence back up, and right now because he’s not confident, he’s tight and he’s nervous, and you can tell by when he plays he either stands even further back than usual or his balls are landing short. The forehand that’s a big weapon isn’t firing on all cylinders like he would like. You’re seeing it in his play, in his matches. You know, to me it’s just a matter of time, and now he’s going on to his favorite surface, and I believe that he’ll get it back, but it’s a matter for him to just start to win more matches. Winning in Buenos Aires I think helped him, but then going to the hard and having a couple tough matches set him back a little bit. But the good news is I think that his favorite season is coming up.

BRAD GILBERT: Two years ago when he came back from missing like eight months and he had an amazing quick comeback, I think the expectation is that, boom, it would happen again. You know, he’s a couple months away from being 29, but he’s a 29‑year old, about to be, that’s played a ton of tennis and had lots of injuries. Amazing thing about him, too, is that a lot of times players ‑‑ it’s almost like an NFL report. They won’t really tell you what they’re thinking or about their injuries, and he’s pretty honest and forthright about it, and at least the good part about it is there seems to be nothing physical. He just seems like that he’s struggling to find his form on big points. You know, if you watched how he lost at Indian Wells, he won the first set on Milos and then had numerous chances to break, wasn’t able to break, and lost the second set breaker; and same thing yesterday, drops the first set, rolls in the second set, opportunity early to break in the third and not able to. And I’ve noticed that being the pattern; break point conversions for him haven’t been great, and exactly what Mary Joe said, he needs to play, he needs the confidence, and I think that we’ll know a lot more about Rafa upcoming in the next two months on the clay court season to see where he’s at. But at 28, almost 29, I’m sure he’s still got a lot of good tennis left in him, but just everyone probably just expected, every time he has gotten injured, he’s come right back, and it hasn’t been as easy so far this time.

Q- My question is looking ahead to the WTA finals in Singapore, last year Bouchard and Halep were the two first‑time performers out there. This year as I look at the current standings, where in just three months I’ve got Pliskova in fourth, Suárez Navarro in fifth, Makarova in sixth, Bacsinszky in seventh, Keys is hanging in there at 10th. They could all be first‑time performers. I wonder if you see any of those guys breaking through to make it to Singapore.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That’s a good question. I’m a big fan of Pliskova. I started watching her play a little bit more closely in Australia. She’s got a really big serve and powerful ground strokes. I think she’s going to continue to improve, so that’s someone definitely that can make a breakthrough.

Suárez Navarro has been winning a lot of matches. She’s good now on all surfaces; she used to be more of a clay courter, so she’s adapted her game to faster courts, as well.

You know, Madison has a great opportunity. I think she’s struggled these last couple weeks a bit. She’s coming off an injury, as well, but if she can start to get her confidence back, I think she’s going to be doing really well on the grass courts and then the summer hard court series.

Look out for Sloane. It looks like she’s regained her confidence, seems to be playing smarter, more aggressively, and I think she can make a run. She doesn’t have that many points to defend this year, so a little bit of the pressure I think is off her shoulders. So I think those would be the ones that I would look out for.

Which was the other one that you mentioned?

Q- I didn’t mention Muguruza, but she was closer early in the season, and also Timea Bacsinszky.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Oh, right, both those players have won a lot of matches. Muguruza lost to Errani yesterday. She’s a little bit more hot and cold. She goes through good streaks and then some bad ones. Bacsinszky has been a big surprise. I mean, she won a couple tournaments and has really picked up her game. She’s a counter‑puncher, but if you give her the opportunity she’ll take advantage of it and has become a really good competitor. I would assume there would be one or two surprises again this year.

BRAD GILBERT: I’m just thinking about the clay court season. You’ve already expediated (sic) to Singapore. I kind of really start looking at that a lot more after Wimbledon because there’s so many points between the start of the clay court season and after Wimbledon. I’ve got to think that there’s going to be at least two on the turnover, maybe three, and obviously I would love nothing more than to see Madison Keys or Sloane Stephens maybe to all of a sudden really step up because she’s really struggled the last couple of years, and now finally finding her game. A few of those other ones, I would think two or three, the Bacsinszkys, a few of these other ones, I think Pliskova has won a lot of matches and really improved the last six months, so of all of those other names, I give her the best chance and really like to see the Americans. I start paying attention to like those live rankings and all that after Wimbledon because I still feel like right now there’s a lot left that is going to happen in the next three months.

  1. With regard to Pliskova, she has yet to get out of a third round of a major, so I guess in your opinion would that be the stepping‑stone for her because you need big points to make it into the top eight and she’s not getting them in those majors?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: No, definitely. Madison did that for the first time in Australia this season, so that’s definitely where you get the points and make yourself a big boost and a jump forward, so that would be the next step for her.

BRAD GILBERT: Well, it was the same kind of thing with Halep. Remember, she really hadn’t made a move in a Slam, and if Pliskova is going to make a run, she’s going to have to at least make two quarters, maybe a semi, so there’s no doubt that will be ‑‑ I feel like it’s really hard, you know, to make top eight if you at least don’t make one deep run in a major. And the thing is now she’s going to start getting seeded higher, but for her to have that happen, I definitely think that she’ll have to at least make two quarters or one semi.

Q- I’m sure you know the Family Circle Cup is the longest running tournament on the women’s tour. It’s the oldest one, and I just wonder what you think is the key to the longevity there when other tournaments have had ups and downs or kind of gone by the wayside?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Well, I’m lucky I played the Family Circle Cup quite a few times when it was in Hilton Head, and Charleston has been great on Daniel Island, and obviously fans make a big part of it, sponsors. Having that loyalty from Family Circle for so many years has been tremendous. The WTA has delivered. They’ve always had top players. The best of the best have played there through the years, and it’s one of the ‑‑ I think one of the favorite stops for the players. It’s very quaint and charming, and it’s the start of the clay court season. Everybody is gearing up to head over to Europe, and it’s the first big one. A lot of combinations to make it be so successful for so long.

BRAD GILBERT: Well, there’s no doubt it’s the premier ladies’ event possibly left in the States that’s just a women’s‑only tournament.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Definitely.

BRAD GILBERT: And I think that maybe that and maybe Stanford. But what they’ve done, to me, the tour has made sure that they get a quality field, and they want to keep the prestige of having this being the longest running tournament. I think that obviously two factors: Support of the tour and support of the players. Then it all of a sudden makes it for the fan base to continue to be what it is. But it’s a great event.

Q- You mentioned a little bit some of the pressure being off Sloane Stephens’ shoulders. What are you seeing at this point? Is she playing looser or more aggressive and how has that sort of translated into her game?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Well, I saw her play quite a few matches in California now here in Miami, and I feel like her intensity is higher. I feel that she is using her great athletic ability to defend, but she’s also looking to use her forehand, and that’s her big weapon. So it just looks like it’s all coming back together, like she’s playing the right way for her game, she’s playing to her strengths a little bit more consistently, and she seems much more engaged point to point. So I think once she makes a mistake, she regroups and she goes right back out to work.

I’ve been really happy to see her progress, and she’s building her confidence. Going into the clay court season, I think that’s one of her best surfaces, and I think we’re going to see Sloane do really, really well.

BRAD GILBERT: I think like three things. One, she’s got her passion back for being on the court. She just didn’t look like for a while that she wanted to be there. Secondly, I think that Madison having the big result in Australia, all of a sudden kind of put the talk that maybe, you know, that there was all these others that were passing her by, and I think that remotivated her because she seems to really have her game, energy, some fist pumping and enjoying to be out there. And lastly, I think a big thing for her is that Nick Saviano, who did a great job last year coaching Genie Bouchard, and I know has worked in the past with Sloane when she was a teenager now is traveling, I believe, with her full‑time. Nick knows the ladies’ game as good as anybody. He’s an outstanding coach, and I think that he’s going to really bring a lot to the table for Sloane for becoming a top‑10 player.

Q- I just wanted to follow up on the Nadal point earlier on. It strikes me that where he is now is a little bit similar to where Roger was when he was a bit short of confidence in 2013, and I wondered if you thought that it gets harder to be mentally bulletproof as you get older?

BRAD GILBERT: Well, the one thing, Roger never, ever leads on anything about confidence, about anything about other than it’s going to come around. Like in poker, he doesn’t reveal you anything about negative, anything that could be like that. Rafa will tell you that he’s short of confidence, or he just hasn’t found his rhythm, where Rafa will tell you that, like, I’m nervous out there, I’m not playing the key points. He tells you a little more what he’s thinking, which is unusual for a great player or any player. He’s a lot more honest about it, and where Roger will tell you, like right before Australia, that he’s very close, and at 33 he’s telling you he’s very close to playing his greatest tennis. So like even if he doesn’t think it, he says that, and Rafa never kind of says like that. I think that he’s not ‑‑ he doesn’t like to talk like that as much, and if he is struggling, he’s not afraid to admit it. It’s very unusual, it’s kind of refreshing, but he is honest about how he’s feeling out there.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I believe that as you get older, it gets harder, especially with a lot of injuries, to keep coming back, and he’s one of the top players that’s been hit with the most. I think mentally it drains you, and we mentioned it before, Rafa has got the kind of game that he needs a lot of repetitions. For him to feel confident, he’s got to hit a million balls in practice. He’s got to win a lot of matches. It’s just a different game style, different mentality, like Brad said, to Roger’s, but you just see players coming back. They’re all different. Andy had back surgery, took him a little while to feel confident again, and we’re seeing a little bit of that with Rafa now.

But I do believe that the more times it happens and the older you get, the harder it is to get it back quicker.

BRAD GILBERT: And Mary Joe, two years ago, when Rafa came back so easily, I think the expectation was it was going to happen again, but Rafa to me, who’s almost 29, is not your almost‑29‑year old. He’s played a lot of tennis. He turned professional at like 15, so he’s been around a long time, and he’s had 10 times more injuries than Roger has had. He’s had a lot of injuries and a lot of period of time where he’s missed, and we all just think it’s a given that, okay, every time that you come back from these injuries, you will. Just one time that he’s struggled, I think we’ll learn a lot more about Rafa in the upcoming clay court season.

Q- What do you think is the biggest surprise on the tour this season, both WTA and ATP?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: The biggest surprise? I think maybe seeing so many young teenagers on the men’s side starting to do well. A bunch of them did well in Indian Wells. We saw it with the Australians Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, and you have Coric. We had a few here, right, Brad, in Miami, get through the opening round?

BRAD GILBERT: Yeah.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That’s been a nice change, considering that the average age has been so much higher now, doing well.

Q- I wonder if you’re surprised by the success of Venus who’s now into the quarters of Miami, best start to the season for her since 2002 is what I’ve been told?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah, Brad and I were talking about it before the call how at her age she’s playing so well, and she’s managing her condition so well. I guess it doesn’t surprise me just because she’s played well for so long, and even though she’s had dips, last year I think really showed us that she can beat anyone on any given day. But now I guess the consistency is what’s coming through a little bit more, and her run in Australia was great, reaching the quarters there. She just has so much belief in herself and her ability. It is a great story for sure.

BRAD GILBERT: I think in the men’s side that obviously we have an interesting balance right now with the big four. We’ve got some great youth coming on, and I think potentially with these two Aussies and Zverev and Coric, I think that we potentially are going to see some teenagers in two, three years that might be the ones to be the next. I also think that potentially ‑‑ I mean, it’s not a surprise, but I think that Djokovic is in for a monster year, a lot like what we saw in 2011. I actually thought maybe we would have seen that last year or the year before, but what I’m seeing so far early is somebody has to play unbelievably well every match to be able to have a chance to beat him. I’m expecting a monster year.

And on the ladies’ side, I am surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, about how good Venus is playing at almost 35. I know you were talking about who’s going to be in Singapore. I wouldn’t be surprised, I don’t know who’s the oldest person to make the top eight, but I think she’s legitimately going to take a run at the top eight, and it will take for her a good major, a semis or finals, but I’m just blown away at how good ‑‑ I was watching her this morning, how good she’s still moving. I’m saying she’s probably moving in the top five of any person that’s playing tennis, and what she’s been through and her age, it’s just incredible to see.

Q- Brad, I was wondering how Jack Sock looks to you. He seems to be making some strides, at least in doubles, and I was wondering how you see him doing in the singles at this point.

BRAD GILBERT: Well, he just started his year at Indian Wells last week pretty successfully. He got to the round of 16 and wins the doubles, lost yesterday to Thiem in the third round and still going in doubles. I think a really good goal for Jack this year in singles would be to see if he can make a second week of a major and be in the top 25. I think he will compete for being the top‑ranked American, and you know, that’s at 22, going to be 23 this year, that’s kind of like the first goal. Have a decent run in a major and make top 25, and then we can kind of reassess from there.

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ESPN’s Draft Academy Series Returns April 14

draftacademy2015Four-week series features Jameis Winston, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley and other 2015 NFL Draft top prospects

Photos via Draft Academy
Preview video

ESPN’s Draft Academy, which offers a personal, behind-the-scenes look at top NFL Draft prospects, will return for a second season, beginning Tuesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The series will have a four-week run of original one-hour episodes (7-8 p.m. ET) and be part of ESPN’s weekly Tuesday night Journey to the Draft programming block.

Draft Academy will profile six highly-touted prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class:

  • Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and potential No. 1 overall pick;
  • Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, the 2014 Doak Walker Award winner and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year;
  • Georgia running back Todd Gurley, one of the top players entering the 2014 season who is recovering from a knee injury in hopes of becoming a first round pick;
  • Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year;
  • Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith of the National Champion Buckeyes; and
  • North Dakota State running back John Crockett, who ran for more than 4,000 career yards in his three college seasons.

Draft Academy’s April 14 premiere will introduce fans to the players. The remaining three episodes will highlight a different part of their draft experience: April 21 (NFL Combine), April 28 (Pro Day workout) and May 5 (NFL Draft).

In addition to the original airs, Draft Academy episodes will re-air across the ESPN networks and on ABC. SportsCenter, NFL Live and other ESPN shows will feature segments leading up to and after the 2015 NFL Draft (April 30-May 2, ESPN/ESPN2). Additionally, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine will offer related content.

Draft Academy is great storytelling because it showcases the grit, determination and character of some of the biggest names in the 2015 draft class,” said Matthew Volk, ESPN director, programming and acquisitions. “The show’s return represents a key element of our expansive coverage leading up to and through the NFL Draft.”

Draft Academy is being produced by ESPN’s feature unit under the direction of coordinating producer Jose Morales, senior coordinating producer Victor Vitarelli and features manager Lydelle King.

The first season of Draft Academy in 2014 profiled Jadeveon Clowney, the eventual No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans; No. 3 pick, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles; Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee; Cleveland Browns cornerback Pierre Desir; and Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey.

ESPN’s 2015 Draft Academy premiere dates:

Date Time (ET) Show Network
Tue, April 14 7 p.m. 2015 Draft Academy Presented by Courtyard by Marriott: The Journey Begins ESPN
Tue, April 21 7 p.m. 2015 Draft Academy Presented by Courtyard by Marriott: The Combine ESPN
Tue, April 28 7 p.m. 2015 Draft Academy Presented by Courtyard by Marriott: Pro Days ESPN
Tue, May 5 7 p.m. 2015 Draft Academy Presented by Courtyard by Marriott: The Draft ESPN

 

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