USA Ultimate, ESPN sign deal for telecasts
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
As part of the agreement, ESPN will produce and distribute live coverage of the sport's college championships, U.S. Open and national championships on ESPN3, which can be viewed on many cable and satellite systems as well as on WatchESPN.com, the WatchESPN app for smartphones and tablets, and through Xbox Live.
"This is an exciting development for USA Ultimate," said USA Ultimate chief executive Tom Crawford in a press statement. "The networks of ESPN represent the premier sports platform in the world, and aligning ourselves with the most powerful brand in sports puts ultimate in an extraordinary place. We are thrilled to collaborate with ESPN for the foreseeable future.
"This approach allows us to achieve our goal of creating large-scale visibility for the sport, while satisfying the growing demand for live and on-demand content from both ultimate fans and sports fans in general."
The sport was developed by a group of New Jersey high school students in 1968. USA Ultimate's website describes the sport as a "player-defined and controlled noncontact team sport played with a flying disc on a playing surface with end zones," with a focus on "self-officiating." The object is to score by catching a pass in the opponent's end zone. A player must stop running while in possession of the disc, but may pivot and pass to any of the other receivers on the field. Ultimate is a transition game in which players move quickly from offense to defense on turnovers that occur with a dropped pass, an interception, a pass out of bounds or when a player is caught holding the disc for more than 10 seconds."
Seven players per side are on the field at a time, and teams typically carry a roster of 25 to 30 players. Games are divided into halves dictated by points instead of time. Typically, depending on level of play, the first team to 15 points wins.
Two high-level teams compete in Boulder, and the University of Colorado-Boulder has men's and women's teams that compete during the January-to-May college season. Home games are played at the city-owned Pleasant View Fields sports complex, 3805 47th St. Boulder has hosted the college championships the past two years.
USA Ultimate, the nonprofit governing body, was founded in Santa Barbara, California, in 1979 and moved from Colorado Springs to Boulder about a decade ago, said Andy Lee, director of marketing and communications. With offices at 4730 Table Mesa Drive. Suite 1-200C, the organization has 15 full-time staff members and about 175 part-time people stationed around the nation to run area programs.
The 2013 USA Ultimate college championships will take place May 24-27 in Madison, Wisconsin, where 40 teams will compete for a national title. The U.S. Open, to be held July 4-7 in Raleigh, North Carolina, features 24 of the best teams from around the world. The national championship, which hosts 48 teams from around North America, will be held Oct. 17-20 in Frisco, Texas.
"Ultimate is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the nation," Lee said. "With entities like ESPN getting involved, it's going to continue to grow relatively rapidly."
ESPN is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS).
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