ESPN agrees multi-year deal with music distributor UnitedMasters

ESPN has entered into a multi-year agreement with independent artist distribution platform UnitedMasters.

The partnership is designed to expand the sports network’s reach to diverse audiences and relevance to fans through programming and promotional content.

The two parties will curate music from UnitedMasters’ “Select” artists to use within ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter, First Take, The Jump, and more.

“ESPN has always covered the intersection of sports and culture, and music plays a key role in that,” said ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro in a statement. “We’re looking forward to strengthening that connection through this new collaboration with UnitedMasters, while at the same time giving up-and-coming artists a platform for national exposure to showcase their music to a broad, diverse and engaged audience of fans.”

There is an increasing alignment between sports organizations and music companies as both parties look to engage fans and maintain cultural relevance.

In January, the National Basketball Association announced it would be partnering with Apple Music and UnitedMasters to create the Base:Line playlist, which is designed to showcase up-and-coming hip hop artists.

The playlist, which has about 40 songs and is updated every week, is featured across NBA digital platforms, including NBA.com the NBA App, as well as league and team social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Snapchat.

UnitedMasters founder Steve Stoute added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with ESPN. They have a massive platform with the potential to make a career-changing impact on up-and-coming, independent artists. The UnitedMasters ‘Select’ roster will serve as an unparalleled library of new and untapped music, and we can’t wait to hear our artists on ESPN shows for years to come.”

UnitedMasters was also the source of World Wrestling Entertainment’s new chief financial officer Kristina Salen, as she worked in the same role there before shifting to WWE.

Meanwhile, ESPN Films announced it has begun production on a multi-part 30 for 30 documentary series based on the 1986 New York Mets, one of Major League Baseball’s most dominant teams, as well as one of its wildest.

Executive producers include ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and “Cousin Sal” Iacono, who is a co-host on FS1 sports betting program Lock It In.