ESPN Expands Coverage Of NCAA Baseball Tournament To Show All 16 Regionals
College baseball has seen a "surge of interest over the past decade," with the latest example coming this weekend, as "for the first time all 16 of the NCAA Tournament regionals will be televised on one of the ESPN networks," according to Kurt Voigt of the AP. ESPN showed "just six of the regional sites last season" and four in '11, but it is "committed to showing every pitch from every game this season on its various outlets." This year marks the 34th straight season ESPN "has shown the College World Series." However, ESPN Programming & Acquisitions Dir Brent Colborne said that showing regular-season and conference-tournament games "only became more of an option as the network looked to fill programming voids created by the lost 2004-05 NHL season." The steady viewership was "enough after last season for the network to look into showing all of the regionals." Colborne said, "We’ve never done it before, so we don’t know what the results will be, but we do know there’s an audience out there." SEC Consultant and former Mississippi State AD Larry Templeton "credited ESPN taking college baseball 'to another level'" (AP, 5/28).
OFF TO A STRONG START: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote ESPNU aired an "outstanding tournament selection show Monday at noon and a 'Road to Omaha' production" at 6:00pm ET. Monday's selection followed "strong coverage Sunday of the SEC championship game between Vanderbilt and LSU." There was "great extra innings baseball, and ESPN had it all the way." Zurawik wrote what "impressed me most about ESPN's selection show was the breadth of knowledge" from analysts Ben McDonald and Kyle Peterson (BALTIMORESUN.com, 5/27).