SlamBall has officially made its much-awaited return to the sports landscape.
A tripleheader of 20-minute games kicked off the action on ESPN Friday night — followed by several more matchups that night and throughout the weekend on ESPN+. SlamBall is indeed receiving a rights fee from ESPN as part of the two-year media rights contract.
The relatively small crowds at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas appeared mostly subdued as the basketball/football combo sport came back to life after a 20-year hiatus. The venue that hosted the weekend’s games normally has a capacity of about 2,500 for UNLV women’s basketball games.
Former NBA player Nate Robinson was among ESPN’s announcing team that tried to make sense of the hybrid competition for viewers at home. Ratings have not been released and it’s unclear how much of an impact SlamBall made in its return. Recaps and reviews of the weekend’s action are limited online, and no SlamBall content seemed to be making any dramatic effects on social media.
SlamBall is scheduled to play more games each of the next four weekends. ESPN2 will show three games each weekend, and ESPN+ will carry the remainder until the playoffs return to the main ESPN channel in mid-August.
The league has raised $11 million in funding to get back in action with support from major inventors like Michael Rubin and David Blitzer.