ESPN Secures Media Rights Agreement for League One Volleyball Pro Matches

LOVB StaffThursday, May 9, 2024


League One Volleyball (LOVB) – the largest brand in youth volleyball with its professional volleyball league launching in the U.S. later this year – today announced that it has entered into a new media rights agreement with ESPN to present pro matches across its linear networks and digital platforms. Available on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN+, the new agreement will showcase ESPN’s continued commitment and belief in pro volleyball as the game continues to break attendance records and drives palpable fandom around the globe.

“LOVB has set out on an ambitious path to develop volleyball into the next major American sports league, and we could not think of a better media company to have in this journey than ESPN,” said Rosie Spaulding, COO of LOVB Pro. “With the championship-caliber of our athletes and the level of their play, we believe the sport of professional volleyball will capture the attention and excitement of sports fans across the United States, and we can’t wait to work with ESPN to introduce the next generation of superstar athletes and everything the sport has to offer to today’s passionate fans and tomorrow’s new ones.”

ESPN platforms will begin the new agreement by airing 10 LOVB Pro matches across its linear networks beginning in January 2025 when LOVB’s inaugural season begins. Eighteen of LOVB’s matches will also stream on ESPN+, the industry’s leading sports streaming service. All match telecasts will include commercial inventory for LOVB to enable brands interested in reaching volleyball’s passionate audience the opportunity to make a big impact across all ESPN platforms.  

There are more than 38 million current and former volleyball players in the US alone, and last year’s collegiate match between Nebraska and Omaha broke the all-time attendance record for a women’s sporting event with 92,003 fans. Also, the NCAA final match between Texas and Nebraska on ABC averaged 1.7 million viewers. The opportunity for brands to capture an all-new and committed fanbase has never been more evident.

“As our coverage of collegiate volleyball continues to evolve, LOVB provides a great professional complement for those athletes and others to continue their careers and our coverage of both them and the sport,” said Daniel Margulis, Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions at ESPN. “We feel their growth model is an excellent one and are excited to partner with this great organization.”

Beyond the matches, ESPN will also highlight LOVB athletes through storytelling during its extensive coverage of the fall NCAA season, which will lead into LOVB’s inaugural pro season, beginning in early January 2025. 

In addition to airing LOVB action in the U.S., ESPN match telecasts will be available on ESPN platforms in select countries and territories around the globe including Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia/New Zealand.

LOVB was advised on the negotiations by David Sternberg and Dan Granik of Range Sports.

LOVB’s inaugural pre-season will kick off November 2024, followed by its main season which will start in January 2025. The season, which will feature LOVB Pro teams in Austin, Atlanta, Houston, Madison (WI), Omaha, and Salt Lake, will conclude with the LOVB Pro Finals in April 2025. Gameday matches will spotlight some of the best volleyball players in the world including, Olympic Gold Medalists, NCAA Champions and All-Americans, and record-setting players like: Jordan Larson, Kelsey Robinson Cook, Justine Wong-Orantes, Haleigh Washington, Lauren Carlini, Jordan Thompson, Logan Eggleston, Micha Hancock, Carli Lloyd and Jordyn Poulter.

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