Seen on Screen: Fox Sports, ESPN Steps to the Plate With MLB Specials; NBC Sports Pumps Up Premier League, Olympics Content

Seen on Screen provides a roundup of the current sports programming landscape as networks deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In this week’s edition, major networks like NBC Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN are combating the silence of no live sports with previously-released, taped, or archival content. Many networks have also continued producing live studio content – often with on-air talent located remotely.

Tonight, @MLBONFOX is “safe at home” with a special edition of MLB WHIPAROUND on FS1. Join Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas, and Kevin Burkhardt as they talk baseball, answer fan questions and relive Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. In addition, FS1 looks back at some of the greatest postseason matchups in league history. At 7 p.m. ET, the Cubs and Indians face off in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and at 10 p.m. ET, the Yankees face the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series…
…ESPN is celebrating what was scheduled to be Major League Baseball’s opening weekend with a special content initiative called Strikeout Saturday on March 28. Strikeout Saturday is an eight-hour programming marathon featuring four of the six 20-strikeout games in MLB history airing in two-hour windows. The marathon begins at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN and will stream via the ESPN App.

Strikeout Saturday schedule and highlights:

  • 12 p.m. ET: Roger Clemens fans 20 batters in his first of two career 20-strikeout performances. He became the first pitcher to record 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game as the Boston Red Sox hosted the Seattle Mariners on April 29, 1986;
  • 2 p.m. ET: Kerry Wood leads the Chicago Cubs to victory while striking out 20 Houston Astros’ in a one-hit shutout at Wrigley Field on May 6, 1998;
  • 4 p.m. ET: Arizona Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson dominates the Cincinnati Reds lineup with a 20-strikeout performance in front of his home fans on May 8, 2001. Johnson received a no-decision in the contest;
  • 6 p.m. ET: Max Scherzer struck out 20 Detroit Tigers’ on May 11, 2016 while leading the Washington Nationals to victory at Nationals Park.

In conjunction with the Strikeout Saturday programming initiative, ESPN is also resurfacing its classic 1997 This Is SportsCenter spot featuring Roger Clemens, who is printing letter “K’s” at the ESPN offices…

…NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage continues this weekend on NBCSN with 16 hours of programming, highlighted by classic matches this Saturday, March 28 and full event replays of memorable Liverpool-Manchester City games on Sunday, March 29.

Saturday’s classic matches feature 30-minute replays of some of the most memorable games in Premier League history beginning at 10 a.m. ET. The games will start with Liverpool kicking off their 2016-17 Premier League campaign, edging Arsenal, 4-3, at Emirates Stadium on August 14, 2016. Then, relive what Sir Alex Ferguson called “probably…the best derby of all time” at 10:30 a.m. ET when Michael Owen’s 96th-minute winner earned Manchester United a 4-3 win over crosstown rivals Manchester City on September 20, 2009. A thrilling North London Derby at 11 a.m. ET features Aaron Lennon’s stoppage-time equalizer in Tottenham’s thrilling 4-4 draw at Arsenal on October 29, 2008.

Saturday’s encore matches culminate at 11:30 a.m. ET with the joint-biggest win in Premier League history, as Manchester United defeated Ipswich Town, 9-0, on March 4, 1995. Manchester United’s Andy Cole became the first player to score five goals in a single Premier League match in the win.

Full event replays of the most unforgettable matches from the Liverpool-Manchester City rivalry begin this Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, featuring Liverpool closing in on a potential Premier League title during the 2013-14 season after a thrilling 3-2 home victory over Manchester City on April 13, 2014. The action continues at 10 am ET with a Manchester City 5-0 win over 10-man Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus(two), and Leroy Sane (two) highlighted the match.

Then at noon ET, Mohamed Salah and Liverpool hand Manchester City their first loss of the 2017-18 season in a seven-goal thriller on Jan. 14, 2018.

Saturday’s coverage also includes Premier League Goals of the Season beginning at 8 a.m. ET with highlights from the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons, while Sunday begins at 6 a.m. ET with Premier League Season in Review, highlighted by the top storylines and action from the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons…

Mike Tirico hosts “Tokyo Olympics: Dreams Live On,” a special debuting on Thursday, March 26 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN. The two-hour show features newsmaker interviews and Team USA athlete reaction to the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics.

Taped on Tuesday, March 24, the day of the postponement announcement, the special includes the first interview with IOC President Thomas Bach following the postponement announcement, as well as discussions with USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland, and NBC Olympics swimming analyst and three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines, whose career was interrupted by the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.

Katie LedeckyNathan AdrianSimone ManuelTatyana McFadden and Jordan Burroughs are among 12 Team USA athletes interviewed for the show:

  • Nathan Adrian (Swimming) – Five-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Jordan Burroughs (Wrestling) – 2012 Olympic gold medalist in men’s freestyle
  • Emma Coburn (Track and Field) – 2016 Olympic bronze medalist
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings (Beach Volleyball) – Three-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Katie Ledecky (Swimming) – Five-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Noah Lyles (Track and Field) – Reigning world champion in 200m
  • Simone Manuel (Swimming) – Four-time Olympic medalist
  • Tatyana McFadden (Paralympic Track and Field) – 17-time Paralympic medalist
  • Cat Osterman – (Softball) – Two-time Olympic medalist
  • Melissa Stockwell (Paratriathlon) – 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist
  • Christian Taylor (Track and Field) – Two-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Mallory Weggemann (Paralympic Swimming) – Two-time Paralympic medalist

This unique program was produced by the NBC Olympics features team, editing from their homes across the country due to social distancing required by the COVID-19 virus, piecing together the 15 interviews conducted by Tirico in the six hours immediately following the postponement announcement, mixing in footage, graphics, music, and additional post-production elements. All video interviews were conducted via cellphone or laptop computer.

Encore presentations will air this Friday, March 27 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and starting tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. NBC will air a one-hour version of the special this Sunday at Noon ET…

…On Saturday, March 28, ESPN2 will bring fans a 22-hour marathon of marquee matches from past Wimbledon and Australian Open tournaments between two of the sports’ greats – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The six-match slate begins at 6 a.m. ET immediately following the conclusion of the previously announced marathon featuring Serena Williams starting Friday at 6 p.m.

The lineup gets underway with the 2006 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Championship, which marked Federer’s fourth consecutive title at the event and the first of three straight years the two would meet in the final. The day continues with the schedule’s only semifinal – the 2012 Australian Open – and is followed by four more iconic championship matches. The 2008 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Championship, where Nadal took home an unforgettable victory after the duo set the record at the time for the longest Wimbledon final, will be shown Saturday night in prime time.

Over their careers, the two have gone head to head 40 times and have 39 Grand Slam victories between them. Currently, Nadal leads those matches, 24-16, but Federer has one more Grand Slam with 20 to Nadal’s 19…

…NBC Sports presents 12 hours of live racing coverage this week as NBCSN simulcasts TVG’s Trackside Live from 4-8 p.m. ET, starting tomorrow, Friday, March 27 and continuing through Sunday, March 29.

Anchored by several TVG on-air Talent who cover racing every day, TVG’s Trackside Live provides fans with live horse racing from various tracks across the country.

The biggest race of the weekend – the $750,000 Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida – will air on NBCSN as previously scheduled this Saturday at 6 p.m. ET, and will be part of the Trackside Live coverage.

The Grade 1 Florida Derby will award qualifying points towards the 146th Kentucky Derby, which will be run on Saturday, Sept. 5. Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby 15 times, more than any other prep race.

Coverage of the Florida Derby will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs…

The next in-home edition of ESPN’s NBA Countdown will be available on YouTube Thursday, Mar. 26.

Hoop StreamsESPN’s NBA digital show, will be live on ESPN’s Twitter and YouTube platforms Tuesdays and Fridays beginning at 5 p.m. ET with host Cassidy Hubbarth, analyst and NBA Champion Kendrick Perkins and fellow analyst Amin Elhassan. All shows will be available on the ESPN App upon conclusion of the live show…

…Poker Central’s direct-to-consumer OTT subscription service, PokerGO, will launch two new original series: “The Championship Run” and “Run it Back with Remko.” “The Championship Run” will premiere on Friday, March 27th and will be available on demand beginning at 12pm ET, while “Run it Back with Remko” will premiere on Thursday, March 26th at 7pm ET. Both new programs will feature commentary on legendary poker cash games and tournaments as poker stars breakdown key hands and strategic gameplay.

“The Championship Run” will take a look back at renowned tournament successes by notable poker players as PokerGO host Jeff Platt walks the audience through momentous hands that led to victory. In the premiere episode of “The Championship Run,” Platt will analyze Chris Moneymaker’s groundbreaking WSOP Main Event victory from 2003, which is widely recognized for launching The Poker Boom of the early 2000’s. New episodes of “The Championship Run” will be available on PokerGO on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12pm PT starting Friday March 27th.

Streaming in a live format, “Run it Back with Remko” will feature a variety of notable poker personalities as they sit down with Poker Central’s Remko Rinkema to bring fresh commentary to poker’s most memorable shows including High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and more. The premiere episode of the series will feature Daniel Negreanu, winner of six World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour championship titles, as he provides exclusive commentary over a classic episode of High Stakes Poker.  Each episode of “Run it Back with Remko” will stream weekly on Thursdays at 7pm ET…

…Samsung TV Plus has launched PlayersTV, a new channel at the intersection of sports, culture, and lifestyle — which is now exclusively available to millions of consumers through Samsung TV Plus, Samsung’s free Smart TV video service.

PlayersTV joins a growing roster of over 100 free channels on Samsung TV Plus. The channel provides a look into athlete’s passions, interests, and off-the-field pursuits, and blends a variety of formats (podcasts, comedies, and documentaries), all centered around sports, culture, and lifestyle. PlayersTV’s exclusive content is made especially for fans by the athletes themselves, including NBA’s Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, and NFL’s Vernon Davis, among others.