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By The Sports Xchange March 28, 2013 4:09 PM
The WNBA signed a television deal that will keep the league's games on ESPN through 2022, the league and the network announced Thursday. The new contract, a six-year extension to the previous WNBA-ESPN deal, will pay the league $12 million per year, according to Sports Business Daily (SBD). Up to 30 games per year will air on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and WatchESPN, up from 28 per year, SBD reported. The All-Star game and playoffs will be included, and on April 15, the WNBA draft will air live on ESPN for the first time. "Our enhanced television agreement reflects ESPN's extraordinary commitment to women's sports and to the WNBA," WNBA president Laurel J. Richie said at a New York press conference. "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." On the league's opening day, Memorial Day, May 27, ESPN2 will air two games. SBD reported that the two games will include the top four picks in the April draft, three of whom are expected to be Baylor's Brittney Griner, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins. "When you have that name recognition coming into the league, eyeballs will follow," New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said, according to ESPN. ESPN president John Skipper said, "This strengthens ESPN's commitment to the league and helps solidify us as the home of women's sports content. We want to be active participants in growing the league." The television coverage will include cameras on referees, plus looks inside the locker rooms pregame and at halftime. The WNBA also released a new logo.