ESPN Aims to Draw in Bicultural Latinos With New Bilingual Sports Show

Lead Photo: Nayu Kim from Toronto, Canada [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Nayu Kim from Toronto, Canada [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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ESPN’s giving its Latino voices a bigger platform starting next week. While I like to think the network realized the best person on any of its show is Papi Le Batard – an old Cuban immigrant, who occasionally shows off his rap skills – the truth is, parent company Disney is hoping its new bilingual show will attract bicultural Latino viewers to its sports channels. Starting Monday, ESPN 2 will air Nación ESPN, a weekly program. According to the Los Angeles Times, radio host Jorge Sedano, boxing reporter Bernardo Osuna, and ESPN Desportes online journalist Marly Rivera will host the program.

The hosts will primarily speak English, but they invite guests to speak in Spanish if that’s the language they feel most comfortable communicating in. If someone speaks Spanish in a live segment, then the hosts will summarize it in English. A Spanish version of Nación ESPN has aired on ESPN Deportes since 2011. 

But with 79 percent of Latino households speaking both English and Spanish, ESPN hopes that this program will draw those who regularly flip between Spanish-language and English-language TV. “Their consumption trends are to pick and choose language both on personal preference, authenticity and which one gives them the most information,” said Freddy Rolón, vice president and general manager of ESPN Deportes. “We see them going between ESPN and ESPN Deportes. We see a potential for growth with them.”

And whether or not this strategy works out for ESPN in the long run, it’s significant that the network is providing a space for athletes or other guests who’d rather speak in Spanish.