ESPN and the Women's National Basketball Association have
signed a six-year media rights renewal that will push the parties' relationship
past the quarter-century mark.
The six-year pact, covering the 2017-2022 seasons, was
announced this afternoon in Good Morning America Studios in New York's
Times Square. Financial terms were not disclosed but
Sports Business Daily pegs the value of the contract at some $12
WNBA currently is in the midst of a long-term deal with the
ESPN that expires, alongside the worldwide leader's contract with the NBA,
after the 2015-16 campaign.
The new agreement, which extends ESPN's relationship with
the WNBA to 26 years from its inaugural season in 1997, calls for contests on
ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, as well as streaming service WatchESPN.
Up to 30 games will air annually on ESPN networks, including
exclusive coverage of the WNBA Conference Finals, WNBA Finals, WNBA All-Star
Game and draft, which this year will be televised for the first time in
primetime. WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm is scheduled for ESPN's
Bristol, Conn., studios on April 15, tipping at 8 p.m. ET.
The network's 2013 WNBA schedule opens with an brand-new
ESPN2 Memorial Day doubleheader on Monday, May 27, featuring Washington at
Tulsa at 3 p.m., followed by Chicago at Phoenix at 5 p.m. espnW.com will take an in-depth look at the
transition from college to the WNBA of ESPN's season-long campaign focusing on
the "3 to See" of Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame) and
Brittney Griner (Baylor).
"We are thrilled to extend our agreement with the WNBA, a
dynamic relationship that will extend over two decades," said John Skipper,
president of ESPN, Inc. and cochairman of the Disney Media Networks. "This strengthens
ESPN's commitment to the league and helps solidify us as the home of women's
Noted WNBA president Laurel Richie, "Our enhanced television
agreement reflects ESPN's extraordinary commitment to women's sports and to the
WNBA. The extension has been a catalyst for the WNBA and ESPN to bring forward
fresh thinking ideas to better showcase our players, our game and our league."
The WNBA is also undergoing a rebrand that will debut April
1, with the cornerstone being new typography and a new logo that will feature a
new "logowoman" (the player silhouette within the logo, much like the
NBA has). The rebrand will also emphasize the orange and "oatmeal"
colors of the WNBA basketball.
In addition, the league will launch a viral
media campaign called "I Am Logowoman" which hopes to engage fans by
having them post photos on Twitter recreating the women in the logo using the