ESPN Acquires Rights to Arena Football Starting in 2014
ESPN and the Arena Football League (AFL) have agreed to a multi-year agreement beginning in 2014.
The new deal grants ESPN rights to more than 10 regular season and postseason games on its television networks per year, including ArenaBowl and one conference championship game, as well as 75 or more games annually on ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network. ESPN’s video player will also be available on the AFL website, ArenaFootball.com.
The relationship between the AFL and ESPN began more than two decades ago when ESPN televised the very first ArenaBowl live in 1987. Since then, ESPN televised a combination of AFL regular season and playoff games for five years (1995-99), AFL playoff games from 2000-02 and both regular season and playoff games from 2007-08. Additionally, ABC presented the ArenaBowl for five years from 1998-2002.
“ESPN has a long history of working with the Arena Football League and this new agreement is a great opportunity to showcase the AFL as part of our year-round commitment to football,” said Matthew Volk, ESPN director, programming and acquisitions.
“The AFL’s return to ESPN is the latest example of the strides our sport has made in recent years,” said AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz. “Having the ArenaBowl on the ESPN family of networks for years to come puts our Championship game alongside some of the most prominent events in television.”
Among the 14 franchises in the Arena Football League is the newly-formed LA KISS of the National Conference West Division — owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS — and the 2013 American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul, which is owned in part by longtime ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski. The Soul played the AFL champion Arizona Rattlers in ArenaBowl XXVI.
Fans who receive their internet or video subscriptions from an affiliated provider will have access to ESPN3 online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV and Roku. The complete schedule of 2014 games will be announced at a later date.