For the first time in the network’s history, ABC will be broadcasting a Bundesliga game this Saturday, when Bayern Munich plays Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker. In addition to ABC, the game will also be broadcast on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes.
ABC will be broadcasting the English language feed, commentated by Derek Rae and Taylor Twellman. ESPN Deportes will carry the Spanish language feed which will be called by their normal commentary team of Fernando Palomo and Mario Kempes. On ESPN+, not only will they carry the same English language feed as ABC, but they will also be broadcasting a so-called “Star Cam” which will solely focus on two specific players: Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna. Commentary duties for that will be handled by Sebastian Salazar and Hercules Gomez.
To bookend the match, ESPNFC plans to host pregame and postgame shows. The pregame show will be hosted by ESPNFC host Dan Thomas who will be joined by Jürgen Klinsmann and Jan-Åge Fjortoft in studio with Archie Rhind-Tutt live on location.
If you're in New York City and want to take a stroll to escape from home for a few minutes, go to Brooklyn (wearing a ) and check out the mural we've put up in honor of #DerKlassiker happening this Saturday (12:30 pm ET)#Bundesliga #espnplus pic.twitter.com/KY8Szek8qY— Diego A. Pinzón (@PinzonDiego) March 3, 2021
What Does This Mean
First, I want to address the star cam decision. ESPN has a fascination with multi-feed broadcasts, meaning they can show the same game in different formats. For reference, see the College Football Playoff National Championship game. While I don’t think the decision to run this is necessarily a bad idea, I question the decision to devote one of the star cams to Giovanni Reyna. It’s not a question of whether or not he deserves it, or whether or not this will appeal to an American audience. It’s a question of whether or not Reyna will even be starting the game. Over BVB’s last five games, Reyna has only started two matches and made an appearance in four of them. It’s a risky bet for ESPN to devote an entire camera on their feed to a player who might not play the whole 90 minutes — or even be there from the start.
When the deal was initially announced between the Bundesliga and ESPN, many people —outside of those in the room — feared that the league wouldn’t be broadcast on American airwaves. But what ESPN has shown is the dedication to continue to add to the league in ways that add to not only match days, but the experience of being an American Bundesliga fan.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports decided not only to broadcast some of the biggest games of the year on their airwaves, but they also added additional materials such as the PBS show Soccer Made in Germany. Ahead of this game, they produced a short documentary — Der Klassiker: A Rivalry Like No Other — which details the intricacies of this game and what makes it special.
Now, ESPN is giving the superstar treatment to the league, broadcasting its biggest game on its legacy network, ABC. While the American Broadcasting Company has experienced a decline in its marketing, sports programming, and prestige ever since being acquired by the Walt Disney Corporation (also the parent of ESPN), this marks yet another major milestone for what was one of the greatest sports networks to have ever existed. ABC carried the American broadcasting rights to the Olympics from 1964-1988 and broadcast the World Cup in the U.S. in 1970 and 1982, as well as each tournament from 1994-2014.
While the Bundesliga may not be on a similar level as the Olympics or the World Cup, being broadcast on ABC carries with it a prestige and importance that this league deserves. Months ago, we were worried that Bundesliga football would never be broadcast on American television. Now, that fear has subsided, and the Bundesliga will yet again have its time in the spotlight.