ESPN Promises a Full Lineup of Fringe Sports for Return of “The Ocho”

ESPN, Naperville business law attorneyWhen you own and operate a business, it is important for you to understand your customer base. This sounds obvious from the perspective that you want to give them a product that they are willing to pay for, but understanding your customers goes deeper than that.

As a business law attorney, I encourage my clients to actively get to know their customers. While you may not be able to do this on a personal level with each and every person who comes through your door, you can develop a general understanding of the needs and values of your target demographic. By doing so, you can offer new products and run unique specials that allow you to stand out from your competitors. Such is the case at ESPN this week, as the all-sports network has announced an event designed to strike a nostalgic chord with viewers of a certain age.

From Parody to Real Life

In the 2004 comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, the centerpiece of the movie is a national dodgeball tournament broadcast on the fictional network ESPN 8: The Ocho. The name of the channel was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the growing lineup of ESPN networks in the late 90s and early 2000s—complete with “The Ocho” as a play on ESPN 2’s nickname of “The Deuce.” In the film, The Ocho was explicitly a fringe-sport network, covering events such as chess, sumo wrestling, and, obviously, dodgeball.

While the in-movie reference was funny and appropriate for the time, the film itself has maintained a strong following, primarily among men who were in their teens and 20s when the movie was released. Last year, ESPN saw an opportunity to appeal directly to this demographic. On August 8, 2017, ESPNU—typically a network dedicated to college sports—became ESPN 8: The Ocho for a day. This year, ESPN is doing it again, only bigger.

On Wednesday, August 8, the total sports network is converting ESPN 2 to The Ocho for a full 24 hours of obscure sports programming beginning with an airing of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story at midnight eastern time. KFC has signed on as the primary sponsor of the lineup that includes:

  • Spikeball: A version of volleyball that uses a small trampoline in place of a net;
  • Cornhole: A popular picnic game in the style of horseshoes where players toss beanbags at wooden targets;
  • Competitive eating: The network will air several Major League Eating events, including brat- and hamburger-eating contests;
  • Hurling: An Irish/Gaelic sport similar to field hockey that dates back over 4,000 years; and
  • Chessboxing: A curious combination of both pursuits in which rounds alternate between a standard game of chess and in-ring boxing combat.

The move to ESPN 2 this year means that more viewers will have access to The Ocho. ESPN 2 is generally included in basic cable packages, making it available to as many as 20 million more households compared to ESPNU, which can be included for an additional cost. ESPN is supporting the day-long event across its various platforms, including ESPN The Magazine,, and the WatchESPN app. Gary Cole, the actor who played The Ocho commentator Cotton McKnight, is expected to appear on the network’s social media accounts throughout the day.

Finding Unique Opportunities for Your Company

While your company may not have the resources that a Disney-owned network like ESPN has, it is still possible to connect with your customers in interesting ways. To learn more or to discuss your ideas, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney at The Gierach Law Firm. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation today.



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