ESPN Extends 24 NCAA Championships – Including Men’s Hockey – Through 2024

ESPN, Inc. and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) today announced a multiyear agreement through 2023-24 for worldwide, multi-media rights to 24 NCAA championships and exclusive multi-media rights outside the United States, its territories and Bermuda for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The new agreement, which takes effect immediately, also provides expanded coverage of each round of the NIT Season Tip-Off and all games from the NIT Postseason Tournament across the ESPN networks.

The new agreement includes 600-plus hours and 300 telecasts of live coverage annually across more platforms than ever before. It contains rights for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Mobile, ESPN FULL COURT, GamePlan, Buzzer Beater, Goal Line, ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN.com and WatchESPN, with many of the 24 championships produced in high definition on ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU HD.

Exclusive coverage of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship and broad rights covering the NCAA Division I Football Championship, and the Men’s and Women’s College World Series, among others, will continue on the ESPN networks.

“We have enjoyed a great relationship with the NCAA that has spanned the history of ESPN,” said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports, and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “This is our most comprehensive agreement yet and ensures sports fans will have access to top-level NCAA athletics across ESPN networks and platforms.”

“Thousands of inspiring and compelling student-athletes make it to the championship level every year, and we at the NCAA are excited to be able to share their stories with a broader audience than ever,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “Across all sports and divisions, our primary goal is to support student-athlete success both on the field and in the classroom, and this new agreement provides us a greater ability to do so.”

ESPN expands its exclusive final round NCAA coverage with 24 NCAA championships:

Fall – Division I women’s soccer; Division I men’s soccer; Division I women’s volleyball; Division I football (FCS); Division II football and Division III football

Winter – Division I men’s and women’s indoor track & field; Division I men’s and women’s swimming & diving; Division I women’s basketball; Division I wrestling; Division I men’s ice hockey; National Collegiate women’s bowling; National Collegiate women’s gymnastics and National Collegiate men’s and women’s fencing.

Spring – National Collegiate men’s volleyball; Division I men’s and women’s lacrosse; Division I men’s and women’s outdoor track & field; Division I softball and Division I baseball

ESPN is adding coverage of seven NCAA championships: National Collegiate women’s gymnastics, National Collegiate men’s and women’s fencing, Division I women’s lacrosse, Division I men’s and women’s outdoor track & field and National Collegiate women’s bowling (previously sublicensed from CBS). ESPN will also air additional preliminary round coverage of selected NCAA championships including Division I football (FCS), Division I women’s volleyball, Division I softball and Division I baseball.

ESPNU

Additional coverage on ESPN’s 24-hour college sports network, including high-profile, preliminary-round NCAA championships exposure. ESPNU has featured original NCAA content since the network’s inception on March 4, 2005

During the 2011-12 season, 15 NCAA national champions will be crowned on ESPNU in the following events: National Collegiate women’s bowling; National collegiate men’s and women’s fencing; Division III football; National Collegiate women’s gymnastics; Division I men’s and women’s indoor track & field; Division I women’s lacrosse; Division I men’s and women’s outdoor track & field; Division I men’s and women’s soccer; Division I men’s and women’s swimming & diving, and National Collegiate men’s volleyball

More than 90 events and 220 hours of NCAA championship programming during the 2011-12 season

ESPN3

ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network will feature exclusive coverage from selected rounds and sites of 16 NCAA championships including: Division I baseball; National Collegiate men’s and women’s fencing; Division I football (FCS); National Collegiate women’s gymnastics; Division I men’s and women’s indoor track & field; Division I women’s lacrosse; Division I men’s and women’s outdoor track & field; Division I women’s soccer; Division I softball; Division I men’s and women’s swimming & diving; Division I women’s volleyball and Division I wrestling

Extensive early-round event coverage from Division I baseball, Division I football (FCS), Division I men’s ice hockey, Division I softball, Division I women’s volleyball and Division I wrestling

80-plus live exclusive events from NCAA championships, the NIT Season Tip-Off and NIT Postseason Tournament during the 2011-12 season

Women’s Basketball

ESPN remains the exclusive home of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. ESPN has carried the championship since 1996

2012 marks the 10th consecutive year of airing the entire championship with all 63 games tipping-off live on ESPN networks

ESPN continues to feature the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special with Selection Monday on ESPN

Men’s Basketball

International rights for the entire NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, including distribution in Latin America (Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America), the Middle East and Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands, Europe, Japan and Canada (via TSN)

Selected highlight rights from the complete championship for distribution in the U.S. and international territories

Exclusive home of the men’s basketball NIT Season Tip-Off and NIT Postseason Tournament, including expanded coverage of the tip-off event and all rounds from the postseason tournament

Live studio coverage from inside the stadium at the Men’s Final Four®

Studio Shows

In addition to women’s basketball, ESPN maintains exclusive rights to selected NCAA championship selection shows. ESPNU will showcase Division I baseball, Division I football (FCS), Division I men’s ice hockey, Division I men’s lacrosse, Division I softball, and Division I women’s volleyball selection shows

More Recent NHL Ratings Numbers

Monday, December 5
8:00
Phoenix vs. Chicago – 302,000 viewers

Tuesday, December 6
7:30
Detroit vs. St. Louis – 259,000

Wednesday, December 7
7:30
Philadelphia vs. Buffalo – 585,000

(Source: John Ourand)

NHL 36 Suffers in Comparison to 24/7

Look, this is going to seem like an unnecessarily harsh headline for the premiere of NHL 36: Patrick Kane on VERSUS last night. Really, it was a nice little show and it looked good. I liked some of the scenes – our star and his father buying Hawks t-shirts, visiting with cops and firemen, his almost scene-by-scene picking on Jonathan Toews, even though Toews was given no chance to respond – and I thought the narration was very good and the cameras on the ice during practice were cool, but otherwise – this felt a little bit slight and rushed, and in the end, I didn’t really learn anything about Patrick Kane, and I’m pretty sure he said fewer words in 30 minutes than I just said in this paragraph.

The format of the show, as I’m sure you know, is straightforward. Cameras and microphones follow around Patrick Kane for 36 hours on a Sunday and Monday preparing for a VERSUS game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The show follows him from awkwardly forced conversation and hangtime with Kane’s dad, to shopping for clothes at a Blackhawks store for reasons that were never made quite clear, to a game between Chicago police and fire that Kane dropped the opening puck at, to the next day’s preparation for the game.

Honestly, there just didn’t seem to be much to Kane’s time under the microscope. A reader commented on Twitter that this show might have been about 10 minutes long if they hadn’t used the slo-mo effect. Some of the stuff in practice was interesting, but you didn’t see nearly the access or the content (read: no cursing, even with bleeps) of 24/7. Therefore, I’m pretty sure we just watched Patrick Kane yell “Hey!” about 15 times in succession during the actual game against the Coyotes.

Choosing Patrick Kane was a good idea on paper, because he’s an bona fide NHL superstar who isn’t currently seeing double from a hit to the head – an increasingly rarer commodity (there’s my controversial material for the day, guys) – and a legitimately popular player. The problem is, the show didn’t seem to find one singular thing that made him interesting and worth chosing for this project, so they just kept kind of floating around to different traits of Kane’s life – his dad, his desire to be a good community guy, his playful rivalry of Toews, even though I don’t think we ever actually hear from #19 – without ever giving us real evidence to show why that’s interesting. I mean, at least show Kane and Toews talking to each other like real human beings.

There’s definitely a show here. Maybe the team at NHL Original Productions just needs to find the right player to make this thing work. How about we follow Sean Avery all day to those dumb modeling shoots he does, or even better, a player on a really bad team – Eric Staal or Rick Nash or Jason Spezza. I’m sure this thing has the potential to go up and down from player to player, but there was certainly a lack of focus and a seemingly forced nature, as if they told Kane and his dad what to talk about – that makes me think that this show needs to find it’s footing before too long, or it won’t be worth the hype. When you saw 24/7 later, it’s as if the wiley vet was showing the youngster how it’s done, which is strange, because the same people behind the former’s first iteration are behind this.

24/7, Episode One Recap: In Mid-Season Form Right Off the Bat

Last year’s premiere episode of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic spent a lot of it’s time pontificating (through Liev Schreiber’s narration) about everything that makes hockey great set to a hypnotizing shot of the washing machines in the Pittsburgh Penguins dressing. It was a fantastic, striking, defining shot of the first season of the series. You’re kind of glad, however, that there is no similar set piece to begin the second season of the show, titled 24/7 Rangers/Flyers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. Not only would it have paled in comparison to that beautiful opening scene, but it would’ve just felt wasteful. We all get it, hockey’s amazing, get to the cursing!

Not that f-bombs and such are the main draw of 24/7, but I’ll tell you for sure, after watching VERSUS’ NHL 36: Patrick Kane earlier in the evening (more on that later today), it was nice to hear the players flat-out uncensored again. One of the great things 24/7 really put an end to were years and years of boring “Mic’d up” segments on National Hockey League TV broadcasts. They knew there was no use competing unless they had something real good. Fact is, none of them have anything as good as what HBO’s got here, in many ways.

The first episode of the new season of 24/7 is yet another smash, however, because it begins – to use a hockey analogy – in mid-season form, instead of defining this as a beginning. Just a few quick explanations of where the two teams are in the standings, and geographically (New York and Philadelphia are just fantastic cities to use as a back-drop to this) and we are off and running. Whereas, perhaps portions of the first series went at their own pace, and stopped to explain certain things, the cameras are constantly keeping up with the action this time around. Much like hockey, there are points where the show moves at breakneck speed, and times when it’s slower and weirder. I felt like I almost went through a full game as a viewer from watching. Hockey is always moving, it was here before the cameras get there and it’ll be there when they live in January. Just in terms of pacing, this may have been better than any episode from either series.

So what are some of the moments I liked? First off, the coverage of the hit on Michael Del Zotto by David Steckel. Thank goodness Del Zotto wasn’t seriously injured on that play, or else we might not have been able to hear his thought process after the hit. Claude Giroux could just be a quiet character, but you’ve got to imagine the fact that he’s still on the sidelines prevented us from hearing much of what he said following the collision with Wayne Simmonds. It was the biggest bummer of the episode, the first time a door had been slammed in the camera’s face on the show. It made the Del Zotto scene, in retrospect, seem even better executed.

But oh man, you guys, now we’ve got to talk about Ilya Bryzgalov, as I’m sure everyone in the sports world will be today. How amazing was hearing his ruminations on “the universe” and how humongous it is? His description of that random bottle of liquor the trainers had brought in was even funnier, with his quote of the night: “If you kill the tiger and they find you, you’re dead that’s it.” You have to think the trainer knew the cameras would be there and just thought to himself, “Oh hell, I bet if I bring this in and show Bryzgalov it’ll be the best thing ever.” And it was.

Probably the moment that I bet HBO thought would be way more exciting than it was became the focus on Sean Avery, who was probably not actually doing a photo shoot for any actual magazine. HBO, just admit you set up that photo shoot yourselves and we’ll be cool. The thing about Avery is this: he’s a really boring guy with interesting tastes. You can be into some more “out there for an athlete” things like modeling, but it doesn’t make you not a really dull person. I hope they avoid focusing on Avery just because of his pop culture cache in future episode. He did, however, have the best shot of the episode when he shot a look at Artem Anisimov after his stick-gun incident during last week’s game against Tampa.

That portion of the show, which focused on the Anisimov incident, was something I don’t think we’d seen before. What happens to the guy who gets the 10-minute misconduct? It was fun to see him have the sort of “stuck in the principal’s office” look until the Rangers came back. Also great was seeing his apology to his teammates after the game. Who’d have thunk Artem Anisimov (aside from the heartwarming look at Ryan Callahan and his family) would be the breakout star of this show for the Rangers?

As for the two coaches, we got an interesting view into each coach’s mind. While Flyer headman Peter Laviolette is sort of a combination of the best parts of Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma and the entertaining profanity of former Washington head-man Bruce Boudreau, I felt like Tortorella was a little more compelling. His thoughts about the state of athletes in the modern age seemed like something they could’ve gone way more into. Tortorella’s known for being not thrilled with this whole thing, but he gave the most interesting coherent interview of the whole show.

Overall, it was a great show. Almost all of the big scenes (Anisimov, Del Zotto, Bryzgalov, Simmonds, Callahan) worked. The only thing that came off as completely dull and wasteful, in my opinion, was the brief, droll focus on Ranger star Brad Richards. While they obviously didn’t think Gaborik would prove very interesting and kept his screentime down to a minimal moment when Tortorella reamed him out and eventually scored a goal, there didn’t seem to be much reason to show Richards. If they were going to do this piece about the “New Big Important Star” on Broadway, why not actually show him on the town, like they did with numerous Rangers taking underprivileged youths to the Radio City Christmas show?

However, while most of the big moments work in episode one, the best part of the show comes on a little more micro level. Stuff like the Rangers team dinner where they played credit card roulette, John Tortorella’s thoughts on Phil Kessel, Scott Hartnell calling Matt Cooke the dirtiest player in the league, the supremely cringeworthy Dan Bylsma/Max Talbot confrontation, and much more. 24/7‘s fast start meant an episode that felt like it rushed by in the span of a hockey shift, and it left you craving another chance to get back out on the ice.