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USA Ultimate Announces Multiyear Deal With ESPN

by in Featured, News with 28 Comments

Just moments ago, USA Ultimate announced a multiyear agreement with ESPN to broadcast the sport’s top events: the College Championships, and the US Open and Club Championships.

According to the press release, “ESPN will produce and distribute live coverage on ESPN3 and tape-delayed programs of the College Championships on ESPNU.”

That means that anyone with an affiliated internet provider will be able to watch live ultimate from these events on their computers, smartphones, or tablets on WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN app.

“This is an exciting development for USA Ultimate,” said USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford in a statement. “The networks of ESPN represent the premier sports platform in the world, and aligning ourselves with the most powerful brand in sports puts ultimate in an extraordinary place. We are thrilled to collaborate with ESPN for the foreseeable future.”

“Carrying the College Championships and inaugural Triple Crown Tour live on ESPN3 is a true testament to our goal of serving fans,” said Todd Myers, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions, in a statement. “Delivering these events across platforms to more than 83 million households nationwide is great exposure for a sport that showcases the highest level of competition in ultimate sports.”

We will have much more on this story later today.

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About Charlie Eisenhood

Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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  • kiki

    holy uninterrupted streams batman

  • Anonymous

    This is pretty sweet, but why is it still called the “Triple Crown Tour” with only one event?

    • Banyas

      There is the US Open, the Regular Season, the Club Championships. The mandatory event total decreased, but the three prongs of the Triple Crown remain.

  • No International Love

    As a non US resident – booo. Disappointed. One of the best things about Ultiworld, Skyd, and NGN is their lack of “border enforcement” (for a lack of a better term right now).

  • David

    What do we stand for? ESPN. Suck on that hippies!

    • Aki

      I don’t think the “hippies” would be against this. BVH’s podcast helped explain that he mostly didn’t like the idea of the lack of self officiating in the pro leagues. Since ESPN is partnering with USAU, the same self-officiating (+observers) and other rules will apply!

      You would probably call me a hippy too, and I am very excited about this! Especially the fact that all three divisions will be broadcasted and that this was a partnership with the USAU (not the AUDL or MLU).

  • Arijoe

    Awesome! How many games from each event do you think they’ll show? Two? Maybe even three!? And I bet they’ll do it all while blocking NGN from any live streaming they could be doing. With progress like this, who needs regression?

    I’ll just say I’m skeptical until I have reason not to be.

    • David

      Eighty. Three. Million. Households.

      • Read the fine print

        E. S. P. N. 3.

        Online only.
        No On Demand.
        Eighty. Three. Million. Households. If they all choose to log in and watch at the right time.

        • Handy

          See the above: “tape-delayed programs of the College Championships on ESPNU” That’s not online, it’s on the TV.

          • Jeff

            However, it is tape delayed. This is no different than the previous broadcast deals, where they were live on YouTube and tape delayed on College Sports TV.

            This is only an advancement if there’s actual plugging of the events on espn.com or, best of all, ESPN/ESPN2.

          • byron

            Tape delayed but only for a couple days as opposed to several months and on ESPNU, thjat’s big.

      • Fine Print

        E. S. P. N. Three.

        Online only. No On Demand.
        83 Million households if they all choose to log in and watch at the right time.

        • Titus Tradewell

          Have you been on ESPN3? At least on the 360 app, there is plenty on demand. Soccer-wise, there are a number of La Liga, Primavera, etc. games available.

          My concern is mostly that we’ll probably not get any DVD collections anymore, not that the championships were ever really collected.

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  • H

    I’m assuming this is just for open (club) and men’s (college).

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.weisbrod Kyle Weisbrod

      USAU has a gender equity policy. Up until now the policy has been interpreted to implement equal coverage of all division (Women’s, Mixed, Open) where USAU has officially negotiated coverage. I would not expect that to change.

      • Alex

        DIII or only DI championships?

      • Equitable

        I certainly wouldn’t expect USAU’s interpretation of their policy to change, but we can be sure that its implementation will. When USAU makes a deal with a partner as big as this, they have to cede control over a lot of the broadcasting decisions. I hope time corrects me, but my guess is that we won’t be seeing much beyond semis and finals broadcast live for Womens and mixed (hopefully a bit more of the former, and likely at the expense of the latter).

        USAU’s lip service about maintaining partnership with affiliate networks (like NexGen for example) will likely mean that while ESPN9 gets first pick at games (mens), USAU will be looking for those other partners to pick up their leavings, and their call for equity in the face of a large partner that dictates coverage will mean that Kevin and his NexGen crew will be offered the rich plums that Womens and Mixed provide as a revenue stream.

  • http://www.facebook.com/troy.revell Troy Revell

    Are there seriously haters for this?? Crawl back under your rock. Great job USAU!

  • Jeff

    Barring better promotion on the major ESPN outlets, I don’t see how this is any different than live streaming on YouTube and tape delayed (and heavily edited) on incredibly niche network television.

    CSTV reaches 30 million homes (as of Feb ’09, per wikipedia, the only source I could find), which is certainly a far cry from 83 million, but how many of those 30 million homes tune in? While certainly an improvement, getting hung up on 83,000,000 is the wrong way to look at this.

    • David

      Tom Crawford said that they had about 600K people tune in for the college championships vs. a few thousand for the YouTube streams.

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  • Ultimatero

    Genial que pasen todos los partidos de ULTIMATE FRISBEE, es lo mejor de espen

  • Mrsunshine7

    so now that ESPN will be broadcasting ultimate, we can finally get the day time Disney movie about Frisbee we have always dreamed about as a community. The good guys triumph over the team that plays without spirit of the game. It’s perfect!

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