The world of sports has been at a standstill since Utah Jazz Center Rudy Golbert tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Since then, the NBA has suspended its season, the NCAA cancelled all winter and spring championships and the NFL has cancelled all fan events prior to the NFL Draft. Furthermore, a number of NBA players and owners have pitched in to help hourly workers at a number of sporting venues who have lost wages amid this crisis. Along with sports leagues, sports networks have scrambled to find daily programming.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN has been able to push forward with shows like First Take and Get Up. Unfortunately, shows like The Jump and College Gameday have been put on hiatus or ended. As a result, viewers have felt a void in their everyday sports viewing. In response, ESPN is considering a number of things.
“There are so many creative things we can do, similar to some of the initiatives we’ve done in the past for special event anniversaries, ‘The Ocho’ day and more,” Burke Magnus ESPN’s EVP of Programming, Acquisitions and Scheduling said.
“The challenge is that now we need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day, seven days a week across multiple networks. That’s what is in front of us in terms of long-range planning,” Magnus added.
Most notably, fans have been pushing for the release of The Last Dance, a six-part documentary about the life and career of Michael Jordan. It was originally scheduled to be released in June to coincide with the NBA Finals. With the NBA season being suspended, many fans have hoped that they could get their fix with a Jordan documentary.
“I know some have asked about ‘The Last Dance,’ and the reality is that the production of that film has not yet been completed, so we are limited there at the moment,” Magnus stated.
Obviously, you can’t air it until it’s done,” Magnus ended.
It’s unclear if the production of the documentary would be sped up to accommodate this unforeseen crisis.