• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

Athletes Unlimited Is Getting All Four of Its Women’s Pro Leagues on ESPN Platforms

  • All four pro leagues will air on ESPN platforms for the first time.
  • The league is ‘actively in negotiations’ to get the remaining games on other networks.
Athletes Unlimited
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Athletes Unlimited, a group of professional women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, and lacrosse leagues, announced Wednesday that all its leagues will play on ESPN platforms this year.

The multiyear rights renewal marks the first time all four leagues will be featured on ESPN platforms.

Viewership numbers are trending upward: Athletes Unlimited lacrosse on ESPN2 and ESPNU grew 25% from the year before, and softball on ESPNU increased 38%.

Here is the breakdown by sport:

  • Basketball: Six games will air on only ESPN+, while the remaining 18 will go on WNBA League Pass, which has previously carried games. Another soon-to-be-announced basketball partner will also carry some games, a source familiar with the situation tells Front Office Sports.
  • Softball: All 18 games of the two-week AUX competition will go on ESPN linear networks. Half of the 30 games for the main season will be on ESPN platforms, with 12 on linear and three on ESPN+.
  • Lacrosse: Half of the 24 games will air on ESPN linear.
  • Volleyball: Half of the 30 matches will air on ESPN linear, while another five will go on ESPN+. 

ESPN will show a quarter of Athletes Unlimited basketball games, about 80% of softball games, half of lacrosse games, and two-thirds of volleyball matches. That’s just over half of all 126 Athletes Unlimited games, with 57 on linear networks and 14 on ESPN+. Last year ESPN also put 57 on linear but showed 42 games on ESPN+.

What changed?

ESPN hasn’t been Athletes Unlimited’s only rights holder—CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Bally Sports, and others have gotten in on the action. The same source tells FOS that Athletes Unlimited is “actively in negotiations” with other media partners to bring the remaining games to a larger audience than ESPN+. Athletes Unlimited was intentional about reducing the number of games on ESPN+ to leave them open for other partners, the source says. And it has plenty of time to figure it out: While the basketball league starts next week, softball and lacrosse aren’t until the summer, and volleyball isn’t until October.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Chapter Officially Opens as No. 1 Overall Pick

Clark’s professional career is starting as a member of the Indiana Fever.

Star-Studded NBA Play-In a Potential Ratings Boon for ESPN and TNT

The initial portion of the NBA postseason features three former MVPs.

Boban’s Stunt Won Clippers Fans Thousands of Dollars of Chicken

High attendance and prices in L.A. are costly for Chick-fil-A.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy Make Media Moves


Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers

Calling the Masters Can Make You—or Break You

Legends are made at Augusta—as long as they do things Augusta’s way.
April 10, 2024

The Masters’ Broadcasters Take What They Can Get

During the first two rounds, ESPN’s coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.
April 12, 2024

Lawsuit Alleges ‘Fraudulent Coup’ at Former ‘Sports Illustrated’ Publisher

A messy situation just keeps getting messier.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 8, 2024

Sports Media Game-Changer? Skydance Eyes CBS Parent in $5B Deal

The two sides have agreed to a month of exclusive talks.
April 8, 2024

South Carolina’s Title Win Smashes Ratings Records in Caitlin Clark’s Finale

The NCAA title game became the most-watched women’s college basketball game.
April 8, 2024

WNBA Commish Wants New Media-Rights Deal to Double Old One

The media-rights deal expires in 2025 to coincide with the Caitlin Clark effect.
April 6, 2024

Iowa-UConn Draws 14.2 Million Viewers, Racks Up Records

The Final Four matchup was the most-watched women’s college basketball game in history. And we’re not done yet.