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ESPN Broadens Its Appeal

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NEW YORK At the ESPN upfront presentation, Ed Erhardt, president of customer marketing and sales, emphasized the network's effort to diversify its fan base in order to deliver sought-after demographics to advertisers.

Expanded programming focuses on the Hispanic and youth markets -- and ESPN.com will introduce content for fans of extreme sports and a light-hearted take on the foibles and highlights of the day's games.

ESPN beginning Aug. 11 will premiere a new live nine-hour block of SportsCenter, its flagship news, highlights and information program, which will be televised from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. The morning portions will be hosted by Hannah Storm, who is joining the sports network, after serving as one of the co-hosts on The Early Show on CBS from 2002 until last year.

One of the goals is to expand international soccer coverage to further align with the Hispanic community. For example, ESPN and Spanish-language ESPN Deportes will broadcast the European Championships in June, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

ESPN also plans to "make the opening of college football season a holiday" by televising 32 college games, Erhardt said.

The network will also focus on high-school sports by showing branded segments based on content in ESPN Rise, its magazine designed specifically for the teen demographic.

And families will have access to a deeply immersive experience, as the Wide World of Sports facility at Disneyworld will be converted into an ESPN-branded sports complex.

In other areas, Rob King, editor in chief of ESPN.com, highlighted the sports network's efforts to create more original programming for its Web site. Content includes EXPN for extreme sports, as well as a program called Mayne Street, hosted by comedian and sports journalist Kenny Mayne, offering a humorous look at sports.