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Volume 26 No. 232
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ABC To Air Regular-Season CBB As Sports Content Increases

ABC increasingly is opening more windows to sports programming, a change in a decade-long strategy that funneled most weekend afternoon sports programming to ESPN. The latest example is that ABC will carry five college basketball games on weekend afternoons this season, marking the first time since '14 that the broadcast network has carried regular-season college hoops. The games are high-quality matchups that should do well ratings wise -- Texas A&M-Texas, UCLA-Notre Dame, South Carolina-Virginia, Kansas-Stanford and Oklahoma State-Oklahoma. The news, which was buried in a press release last week about ESPN's basketball schedule, is the latest example of ABC diving back into sports. ABC will carry XFL games next year, in addition to college football and NBA schedules. This is an important move for ESPN as it enters a period where rights for several major properties are up, including MLB, the NHL and the NFL. Getting more sports programming on ABC is certain to help give ESPN leverage, especially considering the fact that the cable business continues to lose subscribers. ESPN is in 83.5 million homes, according to the most recent Nielsen report. That's down from 85.6 million homes at the beginning of the year.

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