ESPN2 to Fill Programming Hole Caused by Coronavirus Sports Hiatus… With Puppies

Rosemary Rossi

ESPN2 is getting creative with the live-sports-depleted schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic that has brought sporting events to a screeching halt by offering its viewers a touch of puppy love.

In celebration of National Puppy Day on Monday, March 23, ESPN2 is running six hours of dog-related programming in the primetime beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

The featured programming all will either star or be related to Man’s Best Friends and their connection to sports. Take a look at the lineup as described by the network:

Also Read: How ESPN Plans to Survive Without Sports During Coronavirus Hiatus

6 p.m. – “AKC Agility Premier Cup”
Top AKC Agility dogs and handlers from around the country in competition on exciting and challenging agility courses designed to test their athleticism as well as their teamwork with their handler.

7 p.m. – “Dog Tales”
Three popular and touching dog-related features from the E:60 and SportsCenter SC Featured storytelling brands – “Arthur,” “Fenway’s Best Friend” and “A Warrior’s Way.”

8 p.m. – “ESPN Championship Pup”
ESPN’s campus is turned into a doggie competition arena for action in three different AKC-sanctioned dog venues: Agility, Dock Diving and Flyball. Anita Marks hosts coverage with commentary/analysis by Gina DiNardo of AKC.TV and Matt Nelson, founder of the immensely popular “We Rate Dogs” and “Thoughts of Dog” social handles.

9 p.m. – “E:60 Pictures: Owen + Haatchi”
An E:60 story from 2014 about a boy and his dog. But not just any boy, and not just any dog. Together, Owen and Haatchi, with their improbable winning streak and their remarkable bond, are like nothing ever seen. Winner of the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Award.

9:30 p.m. – “Always Late With Katie Nolan
A special “dog” edition of the popular late-night program features one of Katie’s favorite subjects: dogs. Katie welcomes some furry friends to the sets of ESPN’s programs and she and the doggos have fun at the expense of some notable ESPN personalities.

10 p.m. – ESPN Great Outdoor Games Highlights
Two hours of highlights of dog competitions from the 2004 and 2005 ESPN Great Outdoor Games including agility, disc dogs, big air, launch and more.

Also Read: A World Without Sports: TV Networks Brace for Billion-Dollar Losses During Coronavirus Pandemic

As the sports network navigates the unfamiliar territory of staying afloat while there are no new sporting happening for an unknown quantity of months, ESPN is also exploring the use of archival footage of classic games and other sporting events, but rights issues have to be worked out.

“Re-airing full-game presentations is not a right that we or other media companies typically have at our disposal at all times,” Burke Magnus, executive vice president, programming acquisitions and scheduling, said. “Each one of these circumstances requires individual conversations with the specific league or property to determine what’s possible.”

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