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Athletes Unlimited secures RSN distribution deal, Topps partnership

Women’s sports league developer Athletes Unlimited is expanding its reach and visibility by securing a distribution deal with three regional sports networks for its 2020 softball season.

MSG Networks, New England Sports Network, and Altitude Sports will re-air seven Monday games from the organization’s inaugural softball campaign, which is taking place at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois, from August 29-September 28.

The rebroadcasts bolster Athletes Unlimited Softball’s live distribution agreements with a combination of CBS Sports Network, ESPN, and the Olympic Channel reaching more than 200 countries worldwide.

In addition, Athletes Unlimited has signed a content distribution partnership with sports media company WAVE.tv to bring game highlights and short-form video content to digital platforms including Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube.

“Our agreements with MSG Networks, NESN and Altitude Sports will generate additional exposure for our players and partners in key markets as well as provide our fans with another opportunity to watch our games,” said Athletes Unlimited chief executive Jon Patricof.

The newly-created women’s sports organization has been co-founded by Patricof, the former president of Major League Soccer team New York City FC, and Jonathan Soros, the chief executive of investment firm JS Capital Management, LLC, and son of billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

In an innovative new scoring system, players earn points based on team victories and individual performances, giving them the chance to win financial bonuses based on the end-of-season standings. Every week will start with a new draft; the top four players on the leaderboard are selected as team captains and will pick who will play on their team for the week.

In April, Athletes Unlimited announced a star-studded advisory board and plans to start an indoor women’s volleyball league in 2021. A third women’s league in an unspecified sport is planned for 2022.

Elsewhere, Athletes Unlimited is partnering with The Topps Company to create an online exclusive trading card set commemorating the inaugural softball league. The deal represents Topps’ first women’s professional softball set in the company’s 82-year history.

The Athletes Unlimited Softball limited edition trading cards sell for $20 and feature 56 of the world’s best players including 17 Olympians from four countries.

Other commercial partners include Geico, Carvana, Nike, Mariner Wealth Advisors, Aspiration and Sparta Science. On-field partners include Mizuno, HALO Sport, AstroTurf, FlightScope and Famer.