Oxygen Gets WNBA Games
In a surprise deal, female-skewed Oxygen will air 11 live Women's National
Basketball Association games on Tuesday nights beginning June 4, according to
representatives from both companies.
The WNBA will produce the games and sell ad time for the telecasts, while
Oxygen will provide the announcers and handle the halftime on-air duties as part
of the two-year deal.
The agreement does not include postseason games until year two, but Oxygen
could air playoff games this season that are scheduled on Tuesday nights.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal provides Oxygen with high-profile sports programming that it hopes
will attract new viewers, Oxygen Sports president and executive producer Lydia
Stephans said. While it is only a two-year agreement -- sources said the WNBA is
expected to announce a new six-year pact with ESPN, ESPN2 and broadcast network
ABC later this week -- Stephans said the network would determine its WNBA future
at a later date.
'Live sports is relatively new for Oxygen, so we felt that it was best to
initially enter into a shorter-term agreement,' she said. 'After the season, we
will talk about possible longer-term opportunities.'
WNBA vice president of broadcasting Teri Schindler said Oxygen will help the
six-year-old league to further extend its reach to female viewers.
'Female consumers are difficult to reach, so Oxygen brings access to that
audience through its celebration of women's accomplishments,' she
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.