Athletes Unlimited softball league secures CBS, ESPN broadcast deals

Women’s sports league developer Athletes Unlimited has secured broadcast agreements with CBS Sports and ESPN for its inaugural softball season, which is due to take place at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois, from August 30-September 29.

CBS Sports Network will televise seven games in the United States and Canada including the weekly matchup between the top two team captains, while ESPN will distribute 23 games across its platforms in the US.

ESPN will also distribute these 23 matchups outside the US via its platforms throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America and in Canada via its partner TSN. Terms were not disclosed.

Athletes Unlimited is working with Ross Mobile Productions (RMP) to produce all 30 games. Broadcasts will include social-media and graphics integration, super slow-motion cameras and microphones on players and umpires.

The newly-created women’s sports organization has been co-founded by Jon 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.

“We are thrilled to be working with CBS and ESPN. It was extremely important to us to offer our games to a broad audience and not require an additional paid subscription. These deals will allow our games to reach as wide of an audience as possible of both existing fans of softball as well as general sports fans. These partnerships will provide sports fans with the opportunity to watch every second of competition featuring the best softball players on the planet this summer,” Patricof said in a statement.

In an innovative new scoring system, players will 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.