In a hugely important development for college baseball, ESPN will televise every game from all 16 NCAA regional sites this spring for the first time. Last year, ESPN carried six regionals, after televising four in 2011 and just two in previous years. ESPN networks already carried every super regional and College World Series game.
ESPN will also debut a new Bases Loaded channel, which will switch between key moments from games across the country. ESPN’s lead college baseball analyst, Kyle Peterson, will host that “whip-around” show before joining in-game booths later in the tournament.
“Viewers love the format of RedZone, Goal Line and Buzzer Beater,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Mike Moore told USA Today, referencing the whip-around channels for football and basketball. “If you don’t have a particular rooting interest, it’s a great way to watch sports. The TV crew becomes your remote for you.”
A year ago, ESPN planned to cover a maximum of 83 games in the entire NCAA tournament. This year, ESPN could televise up to 153 games (every game in the tournament). That includes up to 112 games over four days during regionals.
Obviously, this announcement represents a huge commitment to college baseball, and it is something college baseball fans have dreamed about for a long time.
In addition, most of the games and the Bases Loaded channel will be available online at ESPN3.
ESPN obviously cares about college baseball, but make no mistake: The network is driven by a desire to maximize its profits, like any corporation. And the fact that ESPN is banking so heavily on college baseball providing a return on its investment is the ultimate sign that the sport is in great shape, and its future is brighter than ever.