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Big Ten volleyball makes strides with national broadcasts, streaming deal

Nebraska celebrates its win over Pitt during the NCAA Final Four last fall. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The Big Ten made strides in the national and international television landscape Monday, announcing TV deals that will broadcast Big Ten volleyball across the United States and around the world in 2022.

The announcements came as part of the Big Ten’s volleyball media days, the first time any conference has held an in-person preseason volleyball media event.

Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield, who led the Badgers to an NCAA title last season, called the media days “first class.”

“It’s been done really, really well,” he said Tuesday. “One of the things that I think has been fun today is — I think going in, I think one of the things was this can’t be a one-year deal. This has got to be in a way that people find value in this and we get to year two or three. There’s success if we’re able to do that.

“As I’m walking around, we’re talking with all the different people, there’s been a lot of, all right, next year we’re going to do this. We’ve got to do this better. And so you love to hear that.”

While the Big Ten has at times been a leader when it comes to volleyball, Sheffield wants to see the idea grow to include more conferences.

“If we’re the only conference that’s doing this, this time next year, then there’s a little bit of failure in that, right?” he continued. “The Big Ten has shown great leadership in being the first one, but there’s got to be three, four, seven conferences that are doing this next year.

“This is a sport that people are passionate about following and putting a spotlight on that and giving access is — it’s got to be more than the Big Ten moving forward.”

For the upcoming season, a record-setting 55 Big Ten volleyball matches will be televised nationally in the United States on Big Ten Network, ESPN2, ESPNU and FS1.

At least 47 matches will be aired on Big Ten Network, including 13 doubleheaders. Another six contests will air on ESPN networks this season, three on ESPN2 and three on ESPNU. Additionally, two conference matches will air on FS1.

Earlier in the day, the Big Ten announced a partnership with Volleyball World, with more than 70 matches airing on for fans worldwide.

“Volleyball World’s emerging platform provides an excellent opportunity to deliver elite-level volleyball content to new and existing fans,” said Michael Calderon, a senior vice president at BTN. “Since launching last year, Volleyball World has established itself as the premier destination for the international volleyball community and we are excited for the role Big Ten volleyball can play in the growth of the game.”

Volleyball World was launched in February 2021 with a goal to “create an integrated ecosystem” that connects volleyball teams and fans through digital and live events.

“The Big Ten Conference is the most competitive volleyball competition in North America and we are excited to bring these matches to fans each week,” said Finn Taylor, CEO of Volleyball World. “Adding Big Ten matches to our rapidly growing portfolio of the world’s best volleyball, shows our continued commitment to growing the visibility of the sport and giving our audience a unique opportunity to watch the stars of the future develop in front millions watching on Volleyball World.”