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ESPN to Broadcast Every Athletes Unlimited Softball, Lacrosse Game in Multi-Year Deal

Jeff Kotuby

ESPN is adding more women’s sports to its platforms thanks to a new partnership with Athletes Unlimited. On Wednesday, the upstart, multi-sport Athletes Unlimited organization and the worldwide leader in sports reached a multi-year rights agreement to broadcast AU’s pro softball and lacrosse games. In all, more than 160 live games will air exclusively on ESPN platforms over the next two years.

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+.

“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.,” said Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited. “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 has recently begun to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to women’s sports. This year’s NCAA Women’s College Basketball Tournament received much more coverage and marketing dollars than in years past in a way that was obvious to many sports fans. ESPN also recently added the Premier Hockey Federation (formerly the NWHL) to its ESPN+ offerings.

Also, don’t sleep on ESPN’s lacrosse coverage. ESPN has been the broadcasting home for college LAX for a while now, but it has also added the PLL, the top outdoor men's lacrosse league, and the NLL, the top indoor men's lacrosse league, to its airwaves in recent months.

In addition to game coverage, ESPN and Athletes Unlimited will collaborate to create “Going Pro: Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse.” This four-part series will air on ESPN+ and will follow four AU lacrosse players as they compete as professionals for the first time, experiencing challenges and lessons learned during their rookie seasons.

“ESPN is excited to expand its relationship with Athletes Unlimited and be part of their innovative approach to women’s professional sports,” added Burke Magnus, ESPN president, programming & original content. “We are looking forward to showcasing these world class softball and lacrosse athletes as part of our longstanding commitment to women’s sports.”

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