ESPN To Break New Ground With Bilingual, Latino Sports Show: ‘Nación ESPN’

Nacion ESPN New Show

Between letting hot-take possessing veterans Bill Simmons and Skip Bayless depart for greener pastures, entirely revamping mainstay shows like SportsCenter and ESPN NFL Countdown, and even adding Saturday night basketball games to the schedule, the ESPN and ABC conglomerate has made it clear in the past two years that they’re willing to leave their past customs and traditions behind. Now, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” is set to enter a new realm: Latino sports.

While ESPN Deportes has been around since 2004 and plenty of Hispanic anchors work for the network, never before has ESPN gone for a regular bilingual show. Enter Nación ESPN, a weekly show that will air on ESPN2 beginning Monday, September 26 at 5 P.M. ET that will aim for both English and Spanish-speaking markets.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Gabriela Nunez published a press release sent out by the network detailing the plans for what could potentially be a ground-breaking show in the sports industry.

“Nación ESPN will be hosted by three prominent and experienced ESPN commentators: Jorge Sedano, co-host of ESPNLA’s Mornings with Keyshawn and Jorge and LZ; Bernardo Osuna, ESPN’s bilingual sports authority, boxing reporter and host of ESPN Deportes’ A Los Golpes; and ESPNDeportes.com reporter and baseball expert Marly Rivera. Their combined voices and diverse expertise will reflect a dynamic Hispanic population, promoting culturally relevant content and information they want in the most authentic manner and in the language they prefer…. The program is a fusion of the two Emmy Award-winning shows, SportsNation and Nación ESPN on ESPN Deportes. While following a similar format, the new show will leverage the crossover that exists between the programs, serving as an authentic connection between the ESPN and ESPN Deportes audiences.”

Toyota has been named the official sponsor of the show, joining longtime ESPN sponsors Gillette, Allstate, and Taco Bell. The decision to have Taco Bell sponsoring a Latino sports show may amuse some people, although the decision makes perfect sense with the show likely having a heavy focus on Hispanic cultures.

A brief promotional clip of the show can be seen below.

ESPN also made clear in the press release that those on the show, both hosts and guests, will have the option of speaking in either English or Spanish. How this will specifically work is unclear, especially regarding the potential use of subtitles on reruns and on clips used in other ESPN programs (i.e. Rivera and Osuna discuss who is the best Dominican baseball player in history, and both speak Spanish during the segment, but SportsCenter or First Take wants to use the clip).

The press release also includes a quote from ESPN’s Freddy Rolón, who serves as vice president and general manager of ESPN Deportes.

“Adding Jorge, Marly and Bernardo to existing voices we have on His and Hers, First Take and Highly Questionable strengthens our commitment to better serve a diverse sports fan base while also generating opportunities for advertisers with a total market approach. Nación ESPN will speak to the audience in a way that resonates with their evolving multicultural lifestyles and interests.”

Already having such a diverse company with plenty of Hispanic personalities, expect the following people to appear at some point on Nación ESPN.

  • Former Major League Baseball shortstop Alex Cora, who currently serves as an analyst on Baseball Tonight. The same also goes for reporter Pedro Gomez and Sunday Night Baseball’s Jessica Mendoza.
  • Dan Le Batard, the popular ESPN radio host who also has a Hispanic-flavored show, Highly Questionable, that airs daily with Bomani Jones and Le Batard’s father.
  • Álvaro Martín, the lead play-by-play man for ESPN Latin America’s coverage of the NFL (specifically Monday Night Football).
Alex Cora Red Sox ESPN
  • Athletes of Latino descent who may be playing overseas or in the minor leagues.
  • Latino singers, entertainers, and other pop culture icons.

Given the success of recent ESPN shows, the network is showing faith by putting it in the 5:00 p.m. timeslot against the evening news, ESPN’s own Around The Horn, MLB Network’s Intentional Talk, and other popular programs. Some may be initially turned off by the idea of it being bilingual, which could lead to moments where viewers on both sides are confused by what’s happening, but a program with a premise like this definitely appears to be worth a try.

As with other ESPN programming, additional content will be available across ESPN and ESPN Deportes platforms, including short-form videos on ESPN.com and ESPNDeportes.com. Social media platforms have also been made for the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Twitter page has yet to officially go up at this time, but the handle will be ESPN2Nacion.

[Featured Image by ESPN]