Last week the NWHL announced a landmark television deal with NESN to broadcast Boston Pride games. On Wednesday, ESPNW Editor-in-Chief, Alison Overholt, tweeted out the next evolution of the NWHL's media expansion:
Exciting news!! @NWHL_ Boston Pride vs NY Riveters on Sunday at 3pm will stream on ESPN3! First game of new deal to carry the league. 🏒
— Alison Overholt (@alisonoverholt) November 25, 2015
Actually, the game between the Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride this coming Sunday will be streamed, but it's still exciting nonetheless.
ESPN3 is the mobile network of the sports monolith. Everyone knows how huge ESPN's footprint is in the United States. Establishing a partnership - even if it's online only - is GIGANTIC.
Since the inception of the NWHL, ESPN has picked up on their games by airing some highlights on Sportscenter (you know, when John Buccigross is anchoring). Hilary Knight has been featured prominently across the ESPN family of products. Both Knight and NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan spoke at the ESPNW Summit in October. The partnership felt like the next logical step, but in the first year of the league? That's incredible.
From Commissioner Rylan:
"We are excited to work with ESPN in growing women's hockey through this agreement. With more than 90 million subscribers, this is a tremendous opportunity for the league, our players and potential business partners to build something special through live broadcasting.
Since our inception, the focus has been to provide the best experience possible for our fans and this goes a long way in accomplishing that."
Here's the need to know details of the partnership:
- For right now, the focus is on the broadcast this Sunday, November 29 at 3:00 pm ET at Harvard Bright-Landry Center, the home arena of the Boston Pride, streaming on ESPN3.
- The reason they picked Harvard Center is because it's the most broadcast ready building. Remember the multiple camera angles and better cameras from the game versus the Riveters last weekend? That wasn't just for NESN. It was to test to see if it was ready for an ESPN3 broadcast. HarborCenter in Buffalo is next near-camera ready location, but the NWHL would not indicate any games in the immediate future airing on ESPN3.
- Consider this process to be "fluid," meaning it could change as both parties figure things out. There is a base set of games agreed for broadcasting on ESPN3, but those games will be announced further down the line.
- There will be NO Cross-Ice Pass (NWHL YouTube streaming) for this game. As a part of the agreement with ESPN, Cross-Ice Pass will be blacked out, and users outside of New England will have to watch on ESPN3. If you are in New England, both Cross-Ice Pass and ESPN3 will be blacked out for this game and you will have to watch on NESN. Blackout rules apply wherever a game is broadcasted from.
- The game between the Buffalo Beauts and New York Riveters will air on Cross-Ice Pass as usual.
If the NWHL needed a partner to really legitimize them in the minds of hockey fans (and more importantly, sponsors), ESPN is the one.
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