ESPN8 The Ocho
Founded2017; 7 years ago (2017)
ParentESPN

ESPN8 The Ocho is an annual special program block showcasing seldom-seen obscure sports that airs on the networks of ESPN Inc.

The Ocho consists of lesser-known, unconventional and humorous sports and other competitions with some athletic or physical skill component, including roller derby, crossnet, Quidditch, trampoline dodgeball, air hockey, darts, disc golf, kabaddi, chess boxing, bed races, sport stacking, electrician games, dodge juggle, death diving, cherry pit spitting, stupid robot fighting, firefighter games, cow chip throwing, pizza dough throwing, frog jumping, cheese rolling, grocery bag competitions, extreme pogo, shuffleboard, breakdancing, and more. It is traditionally aired in early August, the eighth month of the year. Much of the programming consists of previously recorded content and reruns previously aired on the ESPN networks,[1] some as far back as the 1990s.[2]

As of December 2023, ESPN8 The Ocho is also offered as a FAST channel on ABC's website and app.[3]

Origins

The concept of ESPN8 originated as a fictional television channel in the 2004 film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, in which it was a full-time channel showcasing obscure competitions that are "almost a sport" (its name being a comic exaggeration, since at the time there were only four linear ESPN channels—ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic; the fifth, ESPNU, launched a year after the film). Its nickname "The Ocho" was a play on ESPN2's 1990s nickname "The Deuce."[4][1]

Starting August 8, 2017, ESPN paid homage to its lampooned portrayal in Dodgeball by airing a day-long "ESPN8: The Ocho" marathon on its college sports channel ESPNU as a way to fill airtime on the channel during the collegiate offseason. The 2017 airing was a success, prompting ESPN to repeat the block the next year, this time licensing the Dodgeball film from 20th Century Fox for inclusion in the block (ESPN's parent company would buy 20th Century Fox the next year); it made some other adjustments to the 2018 schedule, including heavier editing to shorten each sport's time slot, hoping to accommodate short attention spans.[2]

Due to a lack of live sports programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN announced on March 22, 2020, that it would reprise the stunt earlier than scheduled on ESPN2.[5] It did it on May 2, 2020, on ESPN, and then August 8, 2020, on ESPN2 as well as the Big Screen in Fortnite Party Royale.[6] A collection of sports that were featured on ESPN8, as well as the ESPN8 broadcast on these said networks, were available on the ESPN app.

The event was held again on ESPN2 on August 3, 2023.[7][8]

In December 2023, ESPN launched an ESPN8 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel on ABC.com and the ABC app.[9]

Impact

The tongue-in-cheek inclusion of such sports on ESPN's schedule has led to increased exposure opportunities for those sports, which have performed well for ESPN. ESPN added a cornhole tournament airing in July 2018 outside the block, which it noted outdrew the WNBA All-Star Game, regular season Major League Baseball games and the final stage of the Tour de France among the key demographic of men age 18 to 49.[1] The inclusion of the Excel World Championships, an eSport that involves using spreadsheet programs in a competition to solve a series of problems, helped give the contest mainstream attention and credibility.[10]

ESPN8 appeared in the 2024 TV series Knuckles as the in-universe broadcaster of a bowling tournament, with commentators played by Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer.[11]

Scheduling

2023

Date Time(ET) Event
August 3 7 p.m. Savannah Bananas vs. The Party Animals
9 p.m. 2023 ACL Pro Shootout Championship
10 p.m. 2023 Table Hockey World Championships
10:30 p.m. Red Bull Fierste Ljepper
11 p.m. SlamBall
August 4 1 a.m. Stern Heads-Up Pinball Invitational
1:30 a.m. 2020 USA Mullet Championships
2 a.m. 2021 US Air Guitar Championships
3 a.m. 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship
4 a.m. Jelle's Marble Runs
4:30 a.m. Foosball World Cup
5:30 a.m. World Chase Tag 5
6:30 a.m. 2023 Wisconsin Auctioneers Championship
7 a.m. Microsoft Excel World Championship
7:30 a.m. Truck and Tractor Pulling
8 a.m. Onewheel World Championship
8:30 a.m. Arm wrestling Reborn
9 a.m. Extreme Axe & Knife Games
10 a.m. OmegaBall (three-way soccer) Women's Invitational
11 a.m. 2023 BullShooter Invitational Shootout
12 p.m. Omegaball Men's Invitational
1 p.m. Professional Cuesports League (PCL)
2 p.m. TurfWars Invitational: Adult Kickball Championship
3 p.m. The Ocho Show
4 p.m. 2023 NWLA Wiffleball All-Stars
5 p.m. Major League Table Tennis
6 p.m. 2023 Slippery Stairs
7 p.m. Johnsonville SuperHole IV Championship
9 p.m. Viii Sports YMCA Invitational
10 p.m. Pillow fight Championship
11 p.m. 2023 Footgolf World Cup
11:30 p.m. Masskrugstemmen Stein Holding Competition
August 5 12:00 a.m. 2023 Corgi Races
12:30 a.m. World Dog Surfing Championships Best Waves
1 a.m. USA Dodgeball All-Star Showcase
2 a.m. CROSSNET Sand Series: SoCal (variant of Four square w/ volleyball nets)
2:30 a.m. 2022 eSkootr Championship
3 a.m. 2022 Spikeball’s Co-Ed Invitational: Utah
4 a.m. Red Bull Paper Wings
4:30 a.m. Corunna Belt Sander Races
5 a.m. Franklin Rock River Stone skipping Competition
5:30 a.m. Teqball Tour: Los Angeles
6:30 a.m. 2020 Tetris Championships
7:30 a.m. Golden Tee World Championship
8 a.m. World Sign Spinning Championship
8:30 a.m. Grass Drag Racing Season Opener
9 a.m. 2022 AUDL Championship
9:30 a.m. Ultimate Ninja World Finals
10 a.m. Red Bull Rapids
10:30 a.m. FlingGolf: San Diego Open
11 a.m. Professional Horseshoes League
12 p.m. 2023 ACL Pro Doubles World Championship

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Rosenthal, Phil. "'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 13, 2018. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  2. ^ a b Steinberg, Brian (August 8, 2018). "Bold strategy, Cotton: Inside ESPN's crazy plans to turn 'The Ocho' into a business". Variety. Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Donnelly, Jim (December 18, 2023). "Watch Free: The 'ESPN8: The Ocho' Unlocked Channel Is Now Streaming with No Sign-In Needed!". ABC.com. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  4. ^ "ESPN is creating ESPN8: 'The Ocho' for one glorious day". SB Nation. Archived from the original on August 18, 2018. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  5. ^ "ESPN8 'The Ocho' is back, normally you have to pay double for that kind of action, Cotton". AL.com. 2020-03-19. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved 2020-03-19.
  6. ^ "ESPN Celebrates Four Years of ESPN 8: The Ocho by Streaming in Fortnite's Party Royale on August 8". August 4, 2020.
  7. ^ "'ESPN8: The Ocho' bringing back 'seldom seen sports': How to watch cornhole, corgi races". USA TODAY.
  8. ^ "How to watch ESPN8: The Ocho, 2023 edition". ESPN.com. August 2, 2023.
  9. ^ Lucia, Joe (2023-12-20). "ESPN8: The Ocho is now live as ESPN's first FAST channel". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  10. ^ Pierce, David (2023-08-03). "Excel's esports revolution is coming back to ESPN this week". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-10-12.
  11. ^ Knight, Rosie (April 27, 2024). "Knuckles Pays Homage to Hollywood Comedies Throughout the Ages". IGN. Retrieved May 5, 2024.