ESPN Went Two Hours Without an Ad Break After LeBron James Jilted Miami

Apple Gets the First Commercial Slot When ESPN Finally Relents

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ESPN goes big.
ESPN goes big. Credit: ESPN

It's rare for TV networks to skip commercial breaks, particularly when they have big audiences tuning in, unless the news is so big that they have no choice but to continue broadcasting. For ESPN, covering LeBron James' announcement that he is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers was akin to calling a Presidential election -- or, from the perspective of the Miami Heat, reporting on a major disaster.

ESPN went for more than two hours without breaking for commercial, from 12:21 p.m. to 2:37 p.m. ET, starting a few minutes after Mr. James' decision became public on the Sports Illustrated website, according to, a company that catalogs, tags and measures activity around TV ads in real time.

The first commercial that aired when ESPN finally did take a break was the Apple iPhone ad called "Parenthood."

Sibling ESPN2 also went a significant stretch of time without commercial breaks, with about 40 minutes of uninterrupted news regarding Mr. James' decision, before resuming showing ads.

Sports Illustrated broke the news on its website at 12:13 p.m. in a personal essay, "I'm Coming Home," Mr. James wrote with help from senior writer Lee Jenkins.

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