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ESPN, WNBA Net Six-Year Rights Extension

Contract, Including TV Everywhere Rights, Covers 2017-22 Seasons 3/28/2013 11:59 AM Eastern

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 million annually.

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 co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks. “This strengthens ESPN’s commitment to the league and helps solidify us as the home of women’s sports content.”

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 typeography and 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 hashtag #iamlogowoman.

 

September