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ESPN Revamps Hallmark Sports Investigation Series ‘Outside The Lines’

ESPN is designing a new configuration for “Outside The Lines.”

The long-running investigative program, which has aired weekdays on various ESPN networks since 2003, is being cancelled in favor of an hour-long edition on Saturday mornings and various “OTL” segments that will pop up during programming staples such as “SportsCenter” and “E:60,” the Disney-backed sports-media giant said Tuesday. “OTL” segments will also appear on ESPN.com.

The weekday program, which typically airs at 1 p.m. eastern, will cease production as of December 20.

“’Outside the Lines’ remains the quintessential journalism brand of ESPN and this approach better positions it for deeper dives into important topics during the Saturday edition; daily, in-the-moment perspective of breaking news; and more seamless inclusion into ‘SportsCenter,’” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vice president of event and studio production and executive editor, in a statement. “OTL’s team will continue to do what it has always done – create exceptional content, tackle important issues and make a difference in the world of sports. These changes are being made to maximize the impact and resonance of OTL’s journalism with sports fans.”

Jeremy Schaap will host the new Saturday morning edition, starting January 18 at 9 a.m. eastern on ESPN. Schaap also will continue to co-host ESPN’s monthly prime time “E:60” program with Lisa Salters. ESPN said Ryan Smith “will remain in a prominent role with ‘OTL.'”

The show is one of the programming hallmarks of ESPN, where employees have taken pride in their ability to cover tough issues in the sporting world, even as the company largely thrives on the games it broadcasts from various leagues (and the rights deals it is able to negotiate with them). “OTL” has won 15 Sports Emmy Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards, three Peabody Awards and a DuPont Award.

Among its best-known stories are an investigation that led to the arrest of Conrad Mainwaring, a track coach accused of molesting 41 boys, and a look into the challenges some youth football leagues have in obtaining insurance. Topics have ranged from problems with food concessions at sports events to the death of former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

The weekday version of the show will be replaced with a 90-minute “SportsCenter” that starts at noon eastern

 

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