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ESPN’s Bronx Burned By Home Run Derby

Bronx burns an hour late

ESPN’s programming director has a lot of explaining to do. The network’s first miniseries ever, The Bronx is Burning, was pushed “back, back, back, back” by almost a full hour yesterday so viewers could watch the Home Run Derby. Burning, starring John Turturro and Oliver Platt and based on Jonathan Mahler‘s book on the 1977 New York Yankees, was the subject of a major advertising campaign — with the series scheduled to start at 10PM ET. Except that Burning didn’t air until 10:58PM so ESPN could air the conclusion to the Home Run Derby. TiVo watchers? Out of luck.

Burning is ESPN’s great Emmy-bait for 2007. The eight-week miniseries has millions of dollars of advertising behind it, an iconic storyline (Reggie Jackson? Billy Martin? George Steinbrenner?) and marks one of the network’s great bids to up their dramatic programming. Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby is an unofficial event that’s viewed as a sideshow to the All-Star Game, and is perenially the longest three hours in the history of television. The fact that ESPN could not foresee this problem ahead of time is a long ball, er, shot, at best.

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