Athletes Unlimited and ESPN have reached a new rights agreement for women's pro softball and lacrosse.
At least 90 Athletes Unlimited events will be televised on linear networks over the two years of the deal, including 34 on ESPN or ESPN2 and 56 on ESPNU. The remaining games will be available to stream on ESPN+. In all, more than 160 live games from the women’s sports organization will air exclusively on ESPN platforms.
ESPN also will have international rights for those competitions to air on TSN in Canada, ESPN Latin America and other platforms.
“We are proud to collaborate with ESPN to solidify Athletes Unlimited Softball and Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse as two of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S.,” Jon Patricof, CEO and Co-Founder of Athletes Unlimited, said in a statement. “This deal establishes our presence as a major force in the pro sports landscape in the U.S., while serving as yet another reminder of ESPN’s commitment to women’s sports.”
ESPN will carry live coverage of the Athletes Unlimited Softball draft on May 4. Athletes Unlimited Softball will expand this year to include a two-week competition after the Women’s College World Series. The new competition – AUX Softball – will take place June 13-25, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Title IX on June 23. The competition will feature 42 athletes, and ESPN will carry all 18 games.
The third championship season of Athletes Unlimited Softball will run from July 29 to Aug. 28, returning to the Chicago area at the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Ill.
The second season of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse will take place this summer, with the dates and location to be announced.
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Cliff Brunt, The Associated Press