Already a major player in college sports, ESPN has positioned itself to
become the de facto home of most National Collegiate Athletic Association
Beginning in 2003, ESPN will televise all women's NCAA basketball-tournament
games, as well as 20 other college championships, as part of an 11-year
agreement with the NCAA valued at more than $200 million.
ESPN -- which televised 23 women's college-basketball tourney tilts under its
current deal with the NCAA -- will now offer all 63 games of the spring
tournament, the network said. The early rounds will also be available via
pay-per-view as part of the network's 'Full Court' college-basketball
ESPN will also add two games to its coverage of the College World Series,
including the final game, which was previously carried by CBS Sports.
Other NCAA championships in the new package include men's ice hockey,
gymnastics and wrestling, as well as men's and women's indoor track and field,
soccer, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball.
ESPN executives said a significant portion of the $200 million-plus price tag
is based on 'promotional campaigns' ESPN will develop for the NCAA. The network,
for example, will provide eight highlight programs during the women's
championship, as well as an annual promotional campaign to run from November to
March on ESPN and ESPN2.
ESPN will also partner with broadcast network CBS on a number of promotional
efforts that will take place during CBS' coverage of the men's
'No one delivers more national exposure and cross-promotional value than
ESPN,' network president George Bodenheimer said. 'This is great for college
sports and the women's basketball tournament.'
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