Horse racing. Simulated NASCAR racing. A rerun of Virginia winning the NCAA men’s basketball title.
Those are some of the options viewers will have Sunday as TV networks try to fill the sports programming void caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic caused the NBA, NHL and other leagues to shut down, and prompted the cancellation of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
It has even affected studio shows.
Former Cave Spring, UVa and New York Giants star Tiki Barber is still co-hosting his weekday afternoon sports talk show, “Tiki and Tierney,” but it has aired only on CBS Sports Radio and SiriusXM Radio since March 13. There is no longer a TV simulcast on CBS Sports Network.
“We broadcast out of New York City, … so even if we wanted to do the TV show, I don’t think we could,” Barber said Friday in a phone interview. “The CBS Broadcast Center [where his TV show’s producers worked] has had a couple of positive cases. Entercom, the building that houses our radio show, has had a couple positive cases. So just to be cautious, … the radio and TV sides have advised everyone to work from home if possible.”
So Barber is now doing the show from his home, not from a studio.
“It’s really easy for radio because all you need is this little unit called a Comrex unit,” he said.
Barber hopes his show will be back on CBS Sports Network soon, perhaps with a simple logo on the TV screen while the hosts talk.
Instead of televising Barber’s program and simulcasts of two other talk shows, CBS Sports Network has been airing reruns of college basketball games.
Reruns have also helped TV networks fill the hours that would have been devoted to live games.
CBS (including WDBJ-7) aired three old NCAA Tournament games Saturday and will show three more on Sunday. UVa’s win over Texas Tech in last year’s title game will be televised at 2 p.m. Sunday.
As an added bonus, former UVa stars Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome will tweet during the broadcast from the Twitter account @UVaMensHoops.
CBS Sports Network will give UVa some attention Tuesday, when it airs last year’s Elite Eight game against Purdue at 6 p.m. and the Final Four game against Auburn at 8 p.m. The channel will show Virginia Tech’s 2019 Sweet 16 game with Duke at 7 p.m. Monday.
Fox Sports 1 is not going the rerun route Sunday, hoping to satisfy NASCAR fans with a new eSports race.
Thirty-five current and former NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., will each man a steering wheel while sitting in front of computer screens for a simulated race at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The debut of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will take place in a virtual version of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jeff Gordon and the rest of the Fox broadcast team will call the 90-minute race.
“This is a unique opportunity to offer competitive and entertaining racing to our viewers as we all work through these challenging times,” Fox Sports executive producer Brad Zager said in a news release.
NBC Sports Washington is also going the video-game route.
The regional cable channel has come up with new, virtual programming to add to its reruns of Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals games. NBC Sports Washington aired an NBA2K20 simulation of a Milwaukee Bucks-Washington Wizards game Saturday and will debut an NBA2K20 simulation of a Boston Celtics-Washington Wizards game Monday.
NBC Sports Network will show reruns of Manchester City-Manchester United soccer games Sunday morning and plans to air NHL reruns Monday through Thursday this week.
But NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 do plan to televise actual, live sporting events this weekend. That’s because there is still horse racing going on at some tracks, although the races are not taking place in front of fans.
NBC Sports Network aired four hours of live horse racing Saturday and will televise four more hours Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. NBC Sports Network is planning to televise horse racing next weekend as well.
Fox Sports 1 aired horse racing Saturday and will do so for 3½ hours Sunday beginning at 3 p.m. Fox Sports 2 will air horse racing at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Golf Channel, which has been broadcasting reruns of tournaments, does have a new program on tap for Sunday. Its annual Celebrity Skills Challenge, which was taped earlier this year, will debut at 5 p.m. Sunday.
ESPN is turning to football and wrestling reruns Sunday.
ESPN will televise a seven-hour Tom Brady marathon at noon Sunday, featuring highlights of nine of the quarterback’s games, including his six Super Bowl performances.
ESPN will show a 2014 “WrestleMania” broadcast at 7 p.m. Sunday, with more “WrestleMania” reruns scheduled for upcoming Sundays.
ESPN2, which has been airing a lot of college basketball reruns, will instead turn into “ESPN8: The Ocho” on Sunday.
ESPN2 is moving up the annual August gimmick in which it shows off-the-wall sports. The 24-hour marathon began in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Arm wrestling, dodgeball, robot fighting and hamburger eating are among the events scheduled.
ESPN, which has been airing a lot of “30 for 30” reruns, will be bringing back the longest “30 for 30” documentary. Its award-winning, five-part “O.J.: Made in America” will re-air Monday through Thursday nights this week.
ESPN has still been airing some of its news and discussion shows, including “SportsCenter,” “First Take,” “Get Up,” “NFL Live” and “The Jump,” but the hosts and analysts are now mainly appearing on camera from their homes.
“We have two simultaneous goals,” ESPN executive vice president Burke Magnus said on an ESPN blog. “One is … how we can be as relevant as possible through news and live studio programming. … The second goal is aimed at looking ahead to entertain fans through fun, compelling archival content and/or themed and stunt event programming.”
Fox Sports 1 resumed airing Colin Cowherd’s weekday show on Wednesday, as well as “Undisputed with Skip and Shannon.” The latter show has moved to 7 p.m. weeknights and has been shortened to an hour.
NBC Sports Network will resume airing its weekday “Pro Football Talk Live” show on Monday morning.
The ACC Network has stopped airing its weekday morning “Packer and Durham” show because of both the pandemic and the premature end to the ACC sports year.
“We certainly understand the reason for the hiatus and the safety of everyone, everywhere should be our first priority,” co-host Wes Durham said in an email. “We were going to ride the postseason in both men’s and women’s basketball for the next couple weeks on our show, then have a closer focus on spring sports.”