ESPN will finally air live sports this week, finding the one professional league taking the field during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Disney-owned network has reached an agreement with Eclat Media Group to air games from the KBO League, the professional baseball outfit in South Korea. The KBO League will kick off its season on Tuesday.
ESPN will air six games a week, starting with Opening Day – NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions – on Tuesday, May 5, at 1 a.m. ET / Monday, May 4, at 10 p.m. PT. As part of the agreement, ESPN will become the exclusive English-language home for KBO League live games and highlights for the 2020 season. The deal includes the postseason and the Korea Series best-of-seven championship.
“We’re thrilled to become the exclusive English-language home to the KBO League and to showcase its compelling action and high-level of competition. We have a longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans,” said ESPN executive vice president of programming Burke Magnus.
ESPN play-by-play voices, analysts and reporters will provide commentary in English, remotely, from their home studios. ESPN baseball commentators contributing to KBO League coverage include Karl Ravech, Jon Sciambi, Eduardo Perez, Jessica Mendoza and Kyle Peterson.
How the KBO League will be able to weather any potential flareups of the virus will be closely watched by other major sporting leagues, including the MLB and NBA in the United States. NASCAR will resume its races, without fans in the stands, beginning May 17. ESPN has been without its most-watched programming, its games from the NBA and MLB, since mid-March.
“The KBO League is one of the greatest baseball leagues with world-class players and many exciting initiatives. During this unprecedented and difficult time, I hope the KBO League can bring consolation to the communities and provide guidelines to the world of sports,” said Un-Chan Chung, KBO League commissioner. “I am pleased that the KBO League can be introduced globally and hope this can be an opportunity for the development of our league and the sport.”