It took ESPN a little more than 13 years to capitalize on one of its most well-known pop culture references but the sports network finally decided to pay tribute to Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. On Thursday, ESPN announced its college sports channel ESPNU will rebrand itself for one day as ESPN8 “The Ocho,” lifting the joke straight out of the movie as a winking nod to the network’s ever-increasing list of channels.
In the film, ESPN8 televises the climactic dodgeball tournament, and the real-life version plans to follow suit by airing plenty of off-the-beaten-path sports that don’t quite move the needle in terms of viewership numbers. Beginning at midnight (ET) on Tuesday (Aug. 8, of course), The Ocho will air the 2016 American Disc Golf Championship, followed by the 2016 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Roller Derby Championships. The day continues with other off-kilter sports like trampoline dodgeball, kabaddi (a popular contact sport in Southeast Asia), darts, and arm wrestling. The day ends with the U.S. Open Ultimate Championship at 7 p.m.
All the events will have previously aired across ESPN’s other channels, save for the Moxie Games at 5 p.m. If you have never heard of the Moxie Games, you are not alone. ESPN describes the event thusly: “An uncanny, new and amazing event which combines a variety of sports into one, such as dodgeball and juggling, martial arts and volleyball, and table tennis and soccer.” Given that combining that many sports into one sounds chaotic and virtually impossible, it might be reason enough to tune into the broadcast.
ESPN also notes the majority of events will be available on-demand on TV and on any streaming devices capable of streaming ESPN. The events, sadly, will lack the broadcasting expertise of Dodgeball‘s Cotton McKnight and Pepper Brooks.
The one-day rebranding is not ESPN’s first attempt to delve into the world of niche sports — it aired 10 episodes of drone racing in 2016 on ESPN2. And if this one-day gimmick is not enough to help entice more young viewers to tune in amid the network’s worsening numbers, we suppose it could continue to churn out more Snapchat content.
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