New York City Marathon Gets New Broadcast Home–WABC/ESPN

In an unprecedented agreement, the New York Road Runners Club announced yesterday that their signature event–the New York City Marathon will be televised by ESPN and WABC in New York.  WNBC has anchored the race since 1999.

It marks a return home for the most famous race in the Big Apple. ABC was the first broadcast home for the marathon from 1981 until 1993. This new arrangement is the first national coverage since then, shown on ESPN2. Beyond that, using the multiple resources of ESPN, spectators can access through WatchESPN on computers, mobile devices, and XBox Live.

The five-year deal starts with this year’s marathon on November 4. ESPN2 covers the 26.2 mile race from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while WABC and Website provide extended live coverage from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

Later in the afternoon, ABC airs a two-hour highlight show.

“As New York’s number one station we are proud to be the home of New York’s biggest sporting event,” Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV, said. “It’s great to have the ING New York City Marathon back where it belongs and in a way that more people than ever before will be able to see it.  We also look forward to helping NYRR spread its message about the health benefits of running to all New Yorkers.”

The partnership will also feature coverage of ING New York City Marathon weekend events and other marquee NYRR races throughout the year, as well as quarterly public service announcements on WABC that highlight NYRR’s efforts to encourage running as part of a child’s healthy lifestyle.

“From all over the world runners come to New York to participate in one of road racing’s signature events,”John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president of program acquisitions and strategy, said. “Working with our partner and New York affiliate WABC-TV, we will provide sports fans with first-class coverage of the ING New York City Marathon and showcase the athleticism and heart of its competitors live on our national platforms.”

After a commitment of more than a decade with Channel 4, the NYRR says the move to ABC/ESPN was “so attractive” thanks to its totality and comphrensiveness.

“It was a very spirited pursuit of our property [by NBC] and for ABC to join us,” NYRR spokesman Richard Finn tells FishbowlNY. “We had a great experience and great partnership with NBC.”   

The annual five-borough jaunt draws the world’s top professional runners, a field of more than 45,000 participants from all 50 states and more than 125 countries, and 2.5 million people lining the streets, while raising tens of millions of dollars for charity and having an economic impact of more than $340 million.