ESPN’s Global Coverage of 2015 Special Olympics World Games

ESPN FilmsSpecial Olympics

ESPN’s Global Coverage of 2015 Special Olympics World Games

  • Live, Three Hour Opening Ceremony Special – hosted by Robin Roberts, Lindsay Czarniak and Kevin Negandhi – will Feature Global Parade of Athletes, Musical Performances, Special Guests 
  • Programming lineup also includes: Countdown To The Special Olympics World Games with Robin Roberts; 30 For 30 ShortBrave In The Attempt” from Executive Producer Maria Shriver 
  • Nightly Special Olympics World Games LA2015 program on ESPN to include “Up Close and Personal” features, Competition Showcase, Interviews and more 
  • ESPN coverage to reach 170 countries and territories around the world


ESPN’s global coverage of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, the largest sporting and humanitarian event in 2015, begins this week with live coverage of the Games’ star-studded Opening Ceremony, as well as a Robin Roberts special, a 30 For 30 documentary from ESPN Films and Maria Shriver and a nightly program throughout the Games.

As the official broadcaster of the Special Olympics World Games, ESPN’s coverage will be carried across ESPN’s networks in the U.S. (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) as well as WatchESPN, and some coverage appearing on ABC. Parts of ESPN’s coverage will also be carried in at least 170 countries and territories around the world — on ESPN television and broadband streaming channels in Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, as well as through syndication partners in at least 60 countries and territories. It marks the broadest-reaching coverage ever for the event.

With 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.  With the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, it will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region.

Special Olympics World Games LA 2015 — Opening Ceremony and Nightly Coverage
ESPN’s coverage of the World Games Opening Ceremony will mark the first-ever complete, live coverage of the star-studded spectacle. Hosted by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, she is joined by ESPN’s Lindsey Czarniak and Kevin Negandhi who will host the international Parade of Athletes.

ESPN’s coverage will be live from inside the Los Angeles Coliseum and will bring viewers the Parade of Athletes, the lighting of the Special Olympics Cauldron, as well as capture performances by Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, O.A.R., Cody Simpson (featuring Special Olympics athlete Breanna Bogucki and YouTube sensation Madison Tevlin), Nicole Scherzinger, J Balvin, and the Reach Up LA theme song creator Siedah Garrett. It will also feature appearances by Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria, Michael Phelps, Greg Louganis, Stephanie McMahon, Lauren Potter (among the most popular actresses with an intellectual disability) and others.

ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap and Marty Smith, as well as Special Olympics Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett, will report – both live and recorded – from the Opening Ceremony and throughout ESPN’s coverage of the Games.

Throughout both the Opening Ceremony coverage and its nightly show, Special Olympics World Games LA 2015, ESPN will tell the remarkable and inspiring individual stories in Up Close and Personal” features, produced specially for ESPN’s coverage by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern’s Lookalike Productions. “Up Close and Personal” storytelling segments were first made famous by the legendary Roone Arledge at ABC Sports and last appeared during ABC’s coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary. Some of the featured “Up Close and Personal” profiles include:

  • Andrew Smilley – an open water swimmer from the Cayman Islands
  • Abel Mehari – a Unified Basketball player from Minnesota
  • Davaa Magvansuren  – a track & field athlete from Mongolia
  • Patrick Yerman – a cyclist from Montana
  • Ankush Saha – a golfer from India
  • Amy Noctor, Benjamin Heitmeyer, Courtney Dreyfus, and Noah Dellas — A triathlon team from New Jersey


ESPN’s nightly show will be produced from its downtown Los Angeles Production Center and will also include interviews with athletes and special guests, as well as a daily “competition showcase” segment that will feature play-by-play calls from the day’s action by ESPN’s Jason Benetti and reporting from Paralympic gold medal swimmer Victoria Arlen – who makes her television reporting debut. ESPN Sports Science will also produce special segments for some of the programs.

ESPN’s nightly Special Olympics World Games LA 2015 show will be 30 minutes each night, with the exception of hour-long shows on Friday, July 31 and Saturday, Aug 1, as well as the August 7 Best of Special Olympics World Games LA2015 program.

ESPN’s coverage will also feature a music inspired by the Special Olympics, from artists supporting the message of acceptance, including the theme “Reach Up” by O.A.R., Cody Simpson, Breanna Bogucki and Madison Tevlin; “Song for Someone” by U2; “Fly” by Avril Lavigne; and “Smile” by R5.

Countdown To The Special Olympics World Games, with Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts tees up the Special Olympics World Games with this hour-long special that delivers moving stories of unbridled passion, perseverance, and purpose. With her love of sports and authentic stories of triumph over adversity, Roberts highlights several of the inspiring athletes and talks to the heroes who have brought Special Olympics to the world – people who exemplify the human spirit and inspire millions to work harder and aim higher.  Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games brings viewers into the lives of top athletes, coaches, referees and volunteers, highlights the power of Unified Sports experiences and sheds light on the truth about the neglect many people with intellectual disabilities suffer in the health care industry around the world.

Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games debuts on ESPN, July 23 at 9 p.m. and also airs in the build-up to ESPN’s coverage of the World Games Opening Ceremony on July 25 – at 2:30 p.m. on ABC and at 8 p.m. on ESPN (leading directly into the live Opening Ceremony coverage).

30 For 30:  Brave in the Attempt, executive produced by Maria Shriver
Kicking off ESPN’s evening of Special Olympics programming on July 25th is the new 30 For 30 Short “Brave in the Attempt.” Executive produced by Maria Shriver and directed by Peabody- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Fritz Mitchell, it tells the story of the vision and courage of Shriver’s mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founding force behind Special Olympics. 

The credo of Special Olympics is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt.” This notion has come to embody the movement started by Kennedy Shriver. “Brave in the Attempt” tells how she recognized that people with intellectual disabilities were often ignored and neglected. Yet – as she knew first hand because of her sister, Rosemary – they had innumerable talents and gifts to offer the world. Determined to change the stigma, Shriver started a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Potomac, Maryland. “Camp Shriver” became an annual event, and the Kennedy Foundation (of which Kennedy Shriver was executive vice president) gave grants to universities, recreation departments and community centers to hold similar camps. In time, these efforts became Special Olympics and gave rise to the World Games. The 30-minute film will chronicle an extraordinary woman and her personal mission, which left a legacy of inclusion that has impacted millions.

“Brave in the Attempt” will have a digital premiere on on July 28 and will re-air several times throughout the coverage of The 24th Special Olympics World Games. 

Schedule – ESPN’s Coverage of the Special Olympics World Games LA2015

Day/Date Program Time (ET) Network
Thursday, July 23 Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games with Robin Roberts 9 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, July 25 Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games with Robin Roberts 2:30 p.m. ABC
30 For 30 Short:  Brave In The Attempt 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games with Robin Roberts 8 p.m. ESPN
LIVE: Special Olympics World Games LA2015 Opening Ceremony* 9 p.m. ESPN *
Sunday, July 26 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN2
Monday, July 27 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Tuesday, July 28 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Wednesday, July 29 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Thursday, July 30 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Friday, July 31 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, August 1 ESPN on ABC Sports Saturday (re-air) 4 p.m. ABC
Saturday, August 1 Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Friday, August 7 Best of Special Olympics World Games LA2015 7 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, August 8 Best of Special Olympics World Games LA2015 (re-air) 4pm ABC


All shows will re-air on ESPN2 later the same night.
* KABC in Los Angeles will re-air the Opening Ceremony coverage immediately following ESPN (9p.m.-12.a.m. PT)


Special Olympics World Games on is providing extensive coverage in the build-up to and throughout the Special Olympics World Games. With news and feature stories examining the people and topics of the Special Olympics movement, exclusive athlete blogs, photo galleries and an extensive lineup of video features – including a series of 30 originally produced vignettes that capture the people and stories of the Special Olympics from around the world.’s coverage includes features and stories from and ESPN the Magazine writers including Luke Cyphers, Tom Friend, Hallie Grossman, Missy Isaacson, Brian and Adam Kamenetzky, Devin O’Neil, Alyssa Roenigk and Steve Wulf.

ESPN and The Special Olympics
ESPN is proud of its relationship with the Special Olympics, which spans more than 30 years. It is the official media partner of the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015, and along with ABC, the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America – which carried the Flame of Hope to Los Angeles. Additionally, since 2013 ESPN has been the Global Presenting Sponsor and Official Media Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, which bring athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together as teammates.

ESPN’s support of the Special Olympics is part of The Walt Disney Company’s company-wide support, which includes Disney’s role as a Founding Champion of the LA2015 World Games.

Being a good corporate citizen is a time-honored tradition at both ESPN and the wider Walt Disney Company.

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to

The Walt Disney Company, through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteering, helps to brighten the lives of kids and families in need and strengthen communities around the world. In 2013, the Company donated nearly $370 million in cash, in-kind support and products, and Disney VoluntEARS gave over 667,000 hours of service. For more information visit, or

Paul Melvin, ESPN        860 766 5069 or [email protected]

Teri Couch

I oversee our company archives and manage our media website (ESPN Press Room). I also help out with PR efforts around our partnership with Special Olympics.
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