ESPN, CBS Sports To Present Athletes Unlimited’s Inaugural Season
When 56 of the world’s best softball players take the field for Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural softball league at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, IL, from August 30 to September 29, fans will be able to watch all 30 games live thanks to agreements with CBS Sports and ESPN.
“We are thrilled to be working with CBS and ESPN. It was extremely important to us to offer our games to a broad audience and not require an additional paid subscription. These deals will allow our games to reach as wide of an audience as possible of both existing fans of softball as well as general sports fans. These partnerships will provide sports fans with the opportunity to watch every second of competition featuring the best softball players on the planet this summer,” said Jon Patricof, Co-Founder and CEO of Athletes Unlimited. “We look forward to highlighting our players through compelling storytelling and incorporating new technologies that will cover every angle of play and integrate content from both players and our fans.”
As the lead broadcast television partner CBS Sports Network will televise seven games in the United States and Canada including the weekly matchup between the top two team captains.
While ESPN will distribute 23 games across its platforms in the US. ESPN will also distribute these 23 matchups outside the US via its platforms throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America and in Canada via its partner TSN.
“We are excited to showcase the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited on CBS Sports Network and bring a unique viewing experience to softball fans,” said Dan Weinberg, CBS Sports Executive Vice President, Programming. “It is a wonderful addition to the CBS Sports Network lineup as we continue to add innovative properties to our growing roster of programming.”
Athletes Unlimited will work with Ross Mobile Productions (RMP) to produce all 30 games. RMP has developed several innovative production tools which enhance the viewer experience and has previously worked with CBS Sports, DAZN, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports as well as several of the worlds’ leading sports properties.
“The newly-formed Athletes Unlimited offers fans a distinctive new competitive set-up, along with an innovative viewer experience,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the league in their inaugural season. ESPN loves the sport of softball and we are eager to enhance our women’s sports programming portfolio with this new addition.”
The production will blend unique player access with new broadcast technologies to provide viewers in-depth insight into players, game scoring, and real-time player rankings. The league plans to highlight these innovative elements as part of each broadcast:
- The Piero System, which is an award-winning sports analysis tool created by Ross Video. Piero uses image recognition or encoded camera heads to overlay tactical graphics on sports content. Piero brings new angles to every game, on the screen with visually engaging and informative effects that will include individual player scoring
- Inception social media integration will enable social media content to be produced into on-air graphics presentation
- Super Slow-Motion camera will be used to break down plays, pitcher’s ball release, ball rotation, bat contact and key moments
- All-Access Player Audio will deliver the sounds of the game from mics on players and umpires.
“Having all 30 games available to our fans with enhanced technology is an amazing opportunity to showcase our talents and increase awareness for professional softball around the world,” said Cat Osterman, USA National Team member and confirmed Athletes Unlimited player.
Athletes Unlimited leagues will feature a range of scoring innovations to bring athletes and fans a unique and intense version of the sport. Individual athletes will earn points based on both team wins and individual performance and become the champions in team sports. Points can be earned on every play and the leaderboard will change constantly. In addition, the teams will change each week, with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams. At the end of the five-week season, the player with the most points will be crowned as individual champion.
Athletes Unlimited Softball will feature some of the world’s best professional softball players. AJ Andrews, Kelly Barnhill, Kylan Becker, Jessica Burroughs, Caleigh Clifton, Amanda Chidester, Emily Crane, Samantha Fischer, Jenny Gilbert, Sara Groenewegen, Paige Halstead, Victoria Hayward, Randi Hennigan, Sahvanna Jaquish, Kelsey Jenkins, Haylie McCleney, Taylor McQuillin, Aleshia Ocasio, Cat Osterman, Danielle O’Toole, Sashel Palacios, Nicole Pendley, Shelby Pendley, Mandie Perez, Erika Piancastelli, Lilli Piper, Abby Ramirez, Jordan Roberts, Amanda Sanchez, DJ Sanders, Samantha Show, Kelsey Stewart, Gwen Svekis, Nadia Taylor, Anissa Urtez, Tori Vidales, Haylie Wagner, Jessica Warren, and Megan Wiggins are among the athletes who have already signed on to play.