For the first time since 1994, the Scripps National Spelling Bee won’t air live on ESPN platforms next year. Instead, the nation’s longest-running educational competition will be shown on ION and Bounce in 2022.
Since the two broadcast television networks are two of America’s most popular, the bee will be accessible to the widest audience in its nearly 100-year history.
The June 2 competition will be available free and over-the-air to viewers as well as on cable and streaming. Scripps Networks will announce full broadcast schedules and streaming plans in early 2022.
ION, the No. 5 most-watched entertainment network in primetime, and Bounce, America’s first and No. 2 most-watched African American-focused over-the-air network, are each available in nearly 120 million households across the country.
The E.W. Scripps Company is the longtime steward of the bee and it also owns ION and Bounce – a relationship that will allow the competition to engage more viewers.
“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a beloved American treasure enjoyed by generations of participants and viewers annually. The time is right to bring the iconic competition back to broadcast television, the media platform accessible for free to nearly every American viewer across the country,” said Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson. “As the Bee’s viewership expands through the diverse and fast-growing audiences of ION and Bounce, it is better positioned to connect with the next generation of spellers watching along.”
Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, said the Bee’s move to Scripps’ networks provides even greater opportunities to tell the stories of the talented spellers who ascend to the national competition.
“Now we will have a chance to share more of those inspiring stories with new viewers and the growing over-the-air and connected TV audiences,” Durnil said.
The deadline for schools to enroll in the 2022 program is Dec. 31. School bees are held throughout the fall and early 2022, and regional bees run Feb. 1 through March 31. The finalists will advance to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, where the national competition will return after a hiatus in 2020 and its Orlando venue in 2021.
You can visit spellingbee.com for more information about the competition.