ESPN and Athletes Unlimited agree softball and lacrosse deal

Athletes Unlimited and ESPN have reached a new rights agreement for women’s professional softball and lacrosse.

At least 90 Athletes Unlimited events will be televised on linear networks over the two years of the agreement, including 34 on ESPN or ESPN2 and 56 on ESPNU. The remaining games will be available to stream on ESPN+. In total, more than 160 live games from the women’s sports organization will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN platforms.

ESPN will also have international rights to broadcast these competitions on TSN in Canada, ESPN Latin America and other platforms.

“We are proud to partner with ESPN to solidify Athletes Unlimited Softball and Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse as two of the premier professional sports leagues in the United States,” Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited, said in a statement. “This agreement establishes our presence as a major force in the professional sports landscape in the United States, while serving as a further reminder of ESPN’s commitment to women’s sports.”

ESPN will air live coverage of the Athletes Unlimited Softball draft on May 4. Athletes Unlimited Softball will expand this year to include a two-week competition following 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 broadcast all 18 matches.

Athletes Unlimited Softball’s third championship season will run July 29 through August 28, returning to the Chicago area at the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois.

The second season of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse will take place this summer, with dates and location to be announced.

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Naomi C. Amerson