SBJ/October 30 - November 5, 2006/This Weeks News

ESPN, MRN bringing Spanish-language NASCAR to radio

ESPN Deportes Radio and MRN Radio are teaming to launch Spanish-language NASCAR programming this week.

The yet-to-be-named two-minute segment will air daily on ESPN Deportes Radio stations in 18 U.S. markets, plus Sirius Satellite Radio, and will represent the network’s first NASCAR programming. ESPN Deportes Radio plans an announcement today.

“This is a big endeavor for us,” said Oscar Ramos, ESPN Deportes Radio general manager. “We’re reaching out to a base of fans that hasn’t been spoken to from this sport.”

ESPN Deportes Radio also will carry live Nextel Cup updates from the 28 races where MRN owns the rights, including all of the International Speedway Corp. tracks, as well as Dover, Pocono and New Hampshire. The live race updates will include the 2007 Busch Series race in Mexico City.

The daily two-minute updates will air during ESPN Deportes Radio’s 8 a.m. “SportsCenter.” The network’s motorsports reporter, Andrés Agulla, will serve as the show’s host.

“It’s not a lot of actual minutes, but there will be quite a bit of frequency and it will be on a network with strong listenership,” Ramos said. “It will reach the casual fan and the stronger fan.”

ESPN Deportes Radio, which launched in October 2005, has stations in 11 of the top 25 markets in the U.S., it said, and it also streams continuously on ESPNDeportes.com. The network’s content mostly is talk radio with an emphasis on soccer and baseball, including the World Series, which is being broadcast on the net in Spanish.

ESPN Deportes Radio’s flagship station in Los Angeles, KWKW-AM, during the spring period ranked No. 1 in the market for AM and FM stations in the category of time spent listening.

Additionally, ESPN’s Nextel Cup TV rights kick in next season and run through 2014.

“We’ve got an audience that is hungry for more than just soccer,” said Traug Keller, senior vice president at ESPN Deportes. “ESPN has a commitment with NASCAR and we see this as a smart way to grow our business. Nine percent of NASCAR’s fans are Hispanic, and NASCAR clearly has traction with this fan base.”

MRN will provide Agulla access at the track to its facilities and also distribute the shows to the ESPN Deportes Radio network. MRN’s live radio rights will give ESPN Deportes Radio the opportunity to report from 28 of the 36 Nextel Cup races.

Terms of the multiyear agreement between MRN and ESPN Deportes Radio were not disclosed.

“This is something we’ve been pursuing, obviously, because of the demographic we’re trying to reach in the growing Hispanic market,” MRN President David Hyatt said.

Agulla’s reports through the week will range from news and notes to features with an emphasis on keeping it introductory enough to appeal to new fans.

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