Scripps Inks WNBA Deal
The multiyear agreement will put Friday night games on ION
NEW YORK and CINCINNATI—The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and The E.W. Scripps Company have signed a multi-year agreement to televise games on Friday nights during the regular season on ION.
The agreement makes the WNBA the first sports property to air on ION and is part of a company-wide effort to expand its sports operations. In December, Scripps launched a new sports division.
As part of the deal, ION will air “WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION,” which will feature WNBA games during two windows on Friday nights over 15 weeks from May 26 to Sept. 8.
The Friday night schedule and windows, details of which will be announced at a later date, will include games that will be available nationally as well as games made available on a regional basis.
“The WNBA is thrilled to partner with Scripps to expand the league’s media horizon and reach basketball fans in greater numbers,” said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Access to watch WNBA games is in high demand, and Scripps’ dedicated Friday night lineup of WNBA games on ION will become much desired appointment viewing for WNBA fans.”
“The WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION brings women’s professional basketball the broadest possible reach with the consistency that fans, players, teams and the league deserve,” said Adam Symson, Scripps president and CEO. “Scripps is fully committed to serving and growing the number of American women’s basketball fans who value the athleticism, professionalism and excitement the WNBA brings into their living rooms.”
To promote the games, ION said it will produce an extensive promotional effort to drive awareness and tune-in for the new Friday primetime franchise. Bounce, Scripps News and Scripps’ other popular national networks will help with cross-marketing and promotion. Scripps also will use its local TV stations to promote the “WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION” throughout the season.
“Scripps Sports was established to help leagues and teams extend their reach and connect with audiences through new distribution channels,” said Brian Lawlor, president of Scripps Sports. “We are pleased the WNBA sees the ION network as an opportunity to showcase its games with a weekly nationwide franchise designed to increase visibility and fandom for this sport. Women’s sports merits a national broadcast network that ensures every American TV household can watch these amazing athletes and their gripping game play.”
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.