ING New York City Marathon Inks Five-Year Deal with ESPN/WABC-TV, Returns to Live National TV in 2012

The ING New York City Marathon will be shown on live national television in 2012 for the first time in almost 20 years as the cornerstone of a new comprehensive year-round national and local five-year television package jointly announced by WABC-TV/ESPN and NYRR officials.

The Marathon will be televised live nationally on ESPN2 and available through WatchESPN from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET/6:00 to 9:30 a.m. PT, and in New York on WABC-TV and from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. That same afternoon, ABC will broadcast nationally a two-hour Marathon highlight show. The agreement begins with this year’s event on Sunday, Nov. 4.

The unprecedented partnership will also feature coverage of ING New York City Marathon weekend events and other marquee NYRR races throughout the year, as well as quarterly public service announcements on WABC-TV that highlight NYRR’s efforts to encourage running as part of a child’s healthy lifestyle. The deal reunites NYRR with ABC, which carried the first live national broadcast of the Marathon in 1981 and where it aired until 1993.

“The ING New York City Marathon is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sport, and today’s announcement is a huge step forward in bringing all of the event’s passion and excitement into homes, live, across the country,” said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR and race director of the ING New York City Marathon.

“We’re thrilled that for the first time in almost 20 years, a nationwide audience can experience the 26.2 exhilarating miles that combine the spectacle of great racing with the triumphant celebration of the human spirit—a captivating drama starring  more than 47,000 runners, including the world’s best, played out on the vibrant streets of New York City,” said Wittenberg. “The scope of this agreement, which also showcases the events surrounding the Marathon as well as other marquee NYRR races throughout the year, is a significant step forward as we seek to develop and promote our sport.”

Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV, said, “As New York’s number one station we are proud to be the home of New York’s biggest sporting event. It’s great to have the ING New York City Marathon back where it belongs and in a way that more people than ever before will be able to see it.  We also look forward to helping NYRR spread its message about the health benefits of running to all New Yorkers.”

John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president of program acquisitions and strategy, said, “From all over the world runners come to New York to participate in one of road racing’s signature events. Working with our partner and New York affiliate WABC-TV, we will provide sports fans with first-class coverage of the ING New York City Marathon and showcase the athleticism and heart of its competitors live on our national platforms.”

The ESPN2 telecast will be the centerpiece of a robust schedule of programming. The 26.2-mile race annually draws the world’s top professional runners, a field of more than 45,000 participants from all 50 states and more than 125 countries, and 2.5 million spectators against the backdrop of all five boroughs of New York City, while raising tens of millions of dollars for charity and having an economic impact of more than $340 million.

In addition to the telecast, the event will be available online at and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. Programming will begin with a two-hour pre-race show from 7:00–9:00 a.m. on WABC-TV. All of WABC-TV’s local coverage will be streamed on its website,, and on authenticated mobile devices.

WABC-TV’s commitment includes coverage of several NYRR events surrounding the ING New York City Marathon Road to the Finish, including Marathon Opening Day in April and the Marathon Opening Ceremony featuring the Parade of Nations on Friday, Nov. 2,  as well as a half-hour Countdown preview show on Marathon Eve, Saturday, Nov. 3.

A combination of live and tape-delayed coverage of select NYRR marquee events throughout the year is also part of the extensive broadcast package, including the NYC Half on March 18 and the Fifth Avenue Mile in September.

IMG will continue to be the production company of the Marathon telecast as well as other NYRR programs and events in the deal.

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