The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and ESPN have extended their partnership for another six years, paving the way for WNBA games to be televised on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 through 2022. The announcement was made today by John Skipper, President of ESPN, Inc. and Co-Chairman of the Disney Media Networks, and Laurel J. Richie, WNBA President.
The new agreement, which extends the WNBA’s television relationship with ESPN to 26 years, coincides with the first-ever primetime telecast of the WNBA Draft presented by State Farm on Monday, April 15 at 8 p.m. ET. Up to 30 live games will be televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 each season, including exclusive telecasts of the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile.
“Our enhanced television agreement reflects ESPN’s extraordinary commitment to women’s sports and to the WNBA,” said Richie. “The extension has been a catalyst for the WNBA and ESPN to bring forward fresh thinking ideas to better showcase our players, our game and our league.”
“We are thrilled to extend our agreement with the WNBA, a dynamic relationship that will extend over two decades,” said Skipper. “This strengthens ESPN’s commitment to the league and helps solidify us as the home of women’s sports content.”
Under the expanded agreement, ESPN and the WNBA are exploring a host of enhancements, all designed to give fans greater access and new perspectives on the game:
· Referee Cam – special mini-cameras worn by referees during select games give fans an official take on the action;
· Look Ins – new level of access to practices, shoot arounds and locker rooms pregame and during half time provide close up look game day preparation;
· Current and former NBA Player Commentators – a player’s perspective of the women’s game.
This increased access comes during what will undoubtedly be a breakout year for the WNBA as the league welcomes a highly touted draft class. ESPN’s WNBA schedule tips off on Monday, May 27 featuring a doubleheader and an in-depth look at the 2013 “3 to See’s” transition from college to the WNBA.
Along with the extended ESPN agreement, the WNBA is also introducing a new brand identity. The refreshed identity reflects how far the level of play has come in 16 years as stronger, more agile players have made the game more competitive. The cornerstone of the new WNBA visual identity is a more modern “Logowoman” -- the player silhouette within the logo -- that better embodies the athleticism and diversity of today’s WNBA players while leveraging the distinctive orange-and-oatmeal color scheme of the league’s iconic game ball.
Debuting on Monday, April 1 in support of the upcoming 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, the new identity will be seen across all WNBA assets, including team uniforms, broadcast, digital, signage and print materials. WNBA teams will adapt the new WNBA logo to their colors to communicate their affiliation with the league.
In addition, the league will launch a viral media effort under the “I Am Logowoman” theme. Powered by players, the campaign is designed to engage fans in celebrating WNBA athletes – past and present – who have propelled the game forward. Players and fans will be encouraged to post shots and photos of themselves going to the basket using the “#iamlogowoman” hashtag.
“As a WNBA player, the logowoman represents so many things to me,” said Chicago Sky forward Swin Cash. “It is a symbol of strength, growth and leadership. The new version not only celebrates the trailblazing work of the WNBA, but also past, present and future players. Like our players, she's sleek, smooth and ready to ball. The biggest question is who is logowoman? She does seem to have my physique."
In recognition of this new generation of female athletes and as a part of its long-term commitment to the WNBA, adidas and the WNBA are announcing plans to introduce new uniforms for the 2014 season. Currently in development, the uniforms incorporate performance and style elements specifically engineered and designed to meet the diverse needs of today's high performing women's basketball players.