ESPN will be broadcasting their last Champions League final, before the rights move over to FOX Sports, and the "Leader" couldn't have hoped for a better matchup. Barcelona will take on Manchester United today at 2:25pm on ESPN and ESPN360 live from Rome, and ESPN can't hide its excitement. Via the NY Times....
“We’re going out with a bang,” Mike Walters, the vice president of programming for ESPN International, said in a telephone interview. “We’re not going to mistreat or somehow shortchange this property because we’re not televising it in the U.S. next year.”The final should be a awesome (Manchester United is a -130 favorite), and ESPN couldn't have got a better final to go out on. In fact, it's so important that they actually sent Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth and Dave Roberts, to Rome to call the event in person. If anything exciting happens during the game, I'll be sure to have the video for you.
The game will be shown in high-definition on ESPN in the United States and other countries (and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes, which will offer a 90-minute pregame show), while the network will also beam the game to more than 167.8 million households in 115 countries around the world, including in Latin American, Africa, the Pacific Rim, Asia and Canada. ESPN2 will carry a one-hour preview show on Tuesday, the day before Manchester United attempts to defend its title, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The match will also be available on the broadband network ESPN360.com. ESPN will also present halftime and postgame in-studio analysis.
“It’s really a dream final,” Adrian Healey, one of ESPN’s studio analysts, said in a telephone interview. “These are the two best teams in Europe and it’s one game to determine the champion. But I think what really makes it intriguing, with all the focus on the managers, the players and the history, is that these two clubs really haven’t won that many European titles. ManU has been outshone by its domestic rival Liverpool and Barcelona by Real Madrid.”
“It’s no secret that we made a run to continue, we’ve been nurturing and growing the event here for 15 years,” Walters said. “We’re never happy to see something go elsewhere, but properties come and go. We’re all really in the rights rental business. We don’t have a divine right to air it year to year, unless it’s something you’ve created yourself, like the X-Games. But this certainly is a loss.”
ESPN Gears Up for Final Final (NY Times)