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Athletes Unlimited reaches two-year deal with ESPN

Photo courtesy of Athletes Unlimited

Athletes Unlimited is coming to ESPN, with the league announcing a two-year broadcast deal with the network Wednesday.

ESPN will air 160 softball and lacrosse games across the network’s platforms, starting with the 2022 seasons. At least 90 AU events air across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN+ as part of the agreement.

“We are proud to collaborate with ESPN to solidify Athletes Unlimited Softball and Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse as two of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. This deal establishes our presence as a major force in the pro sports landscape in the U.S., while serving as yet another reminder of ESPN’s commitment to women’s sports,” said Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited.

In addition to match coverage, ESPN and AU will join forces to produce the four-part project Going Pro: Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse, set to air on ESPN+. The series will follow lacrosse players in their rookie season as they transition to professional competition.

The third season of Athletes Unlimited Softball will kick off on July 29, with 60 players returning to Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois, for five weeks of competition. AU Softball also has expanded to incorporate a new two-week tournament, AUX Softball, scheduled for June 13-25, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Title IX on June 23. The event will feature 42 athletes competing in 18 games in San Diego, with ESPN airing the competition.

ESPN will carry the Athletes Unlimited Softball Draft on May 4 during the espnW Summit in New York.

Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse also will return this summer, with dates and a location yet to be announced.