Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 23, 2017)—USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport of ultimate in the United States and proud member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and ESPN announced today a multi-year agreement whereby ESPN will present the sport’s premier event properties, including the College Championships and the Triple Crown Tour.
As part of the agreement, ESPN will produce and distribute live coverage of four championship events – the College Championships, U.S. Open, Pro Championships (previously the Pro Flight Finale) and National Championships – on a variety of linear and digital platforms, including ESPN2, ESPNU and streaming live on the ESPN app.
ESPN will distribute a total of 69 games, including 26 men’s games and 26 women’s games.
For the Triple Crown Tour events, which also feature a mixed gender division in addition to men’s and women’s, ESPN will distribute a total of 51 games – 17 in each of the three divisions.
“We have been really pleased with our first four years with ESPN,” commented USA Ultimate Chief Executive Officer Tom Crawford. “Their production and programming teams have been a pleasure to work with as we continually work together to improve the product we put out to our ever-expanding audience. They’ve been fabulous in working with us to enhance the entertainment value of our sport’s special blend of grit and grace. Enhancing our coverage is very exciting, and I can’t wait to see the end product.”
The 2017 College Championships will take place in Cincinnati, May 26-29, where 40 teams will compete for a national title. Each year, more than 800 college teams from across North America compete in USA Ultimate’s regular season before heading into the postseason championship series to qualify for the national championship tournament. This year, ESPN will live stream the four men’s and women’s semifinal matches on the ESPN app before simulcasting the two championship games live on both ESPNU and the ESPN app at 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. EDT, Monday, May 29.
The Triple Crown Tour represents ultimate’s highest level of competition and consists of three major tournaments – the U.S. Open, the Pro Championships (previously the Pro Flight Finale) and the National Championships.
Scheduled for Aug. 4-6 in Minneapolis, the 2017 U.S. Open will feature the world’s top 36 teams in three divisions – men’s, women’s and mixed gender – including teams from Canada, Colombia, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. ESPN’s programming from the U.S. Open will include four semifinal matchups and two championship games, streaming live on the ESPN app, plus one championship match, live on ESPN2.
The 2017 Pro Championships will take place in Seattle, Sept. 2-4, and features the 24 teams in the Triple Crown Tour’s Pro Flight – the top tier of elite-level teams in North America – as well as two additional teams in each gender division who earn bids through their performance earlier in the Triple Crown Tour season. The three championship games (men’s, mixed and women’s) will be streaming live on the ESPN app.
The National Championships represent the culmination of the Triple Crown Tour and is regarded as one of – if not the most – prestigious titles in ultimate. More than 600 club division teams pursue a spot at Nationals, with 48 teams – 16 in each of the men’s, mixed and women’s divisions – eventually qualifying. In 2017, the tournament will take place October 19-22 in Sarasota, Fla., where the four semifinal matchups and three championship games will be streaming live on the ESPN app.
“This is an exciting time for the sport of ultimate,” continued Crawford. It’s a World Games year, and we’ve recently been included on the program for the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games, beginning in 2019. ESPN is the perfect platform for ultimate with its powerful combination of expanded digital distribution and traditional linear channels. This relationship provides ultimate with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase and achieve greater visibility for our phenomenal athletes and sport.”