ESPN Celebrates Twenty Years Of Airing National Spelling Bee

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This Wednesday, May 29th is a very special anniversary for ESPN and the ESPN family of networks.  Tomorrow marks the twentieth consecutive year that ESPN will air the annual event.  It will celebrate by running fourteen hours of programming across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.  The programming begins at 8am EDT and ends Thursday, May 30th at 10pm.

All of the Bee’s preliminary rounds will air May 29th and will be carried exclusively on ESPN3.  Standard cable broadcast of the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will begin Thursday, May 30th at 2pm EDT.  Semi-Finals will air on ESPN2.  Finals will air on ESPN May 29th at 8pm EDT.  All coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 will be simulcast on ESPN3.  Audiences that have ESPN 3 will have a special extra option called “Play Along.”  The option allows viewers to watch each round without seeing the word until the final moments.  This will allow viewers to test their own spelling skills as they watch each contestant take the mic.   

ESPN SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele returns for the fourth year as host of the event.  He will be joined by Paul A. Loeffler and college sports reporter and College GameDay host Samantha Ponder.  Ponder returns as reporter for the National Spelling Bee.  Loeffler is a former Bee finalist.  He represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun Star in the 1990 National Spelling Bee and finished in the contest’s Top 13 spellers.  A full schedule of events is listed below.

The schedule:

Date Time (ET) Round Networks
Wed, May 29 8-11:45 a.m. Preliminary Round 2 & Play-Along Version ESPN3
  1:15-6:15 p.m. Preliminary Round 3 & Play-Along Version ESPN3
Thu, May 30 2-5 p.m. Semifinals Rounds 5-6 & Play-Along Version ESPN2 / WatchESPN
  8-10 p.m. Championship Finals & Play-Along Version ESPN / WatchESPN


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