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NWHL

Do ESPN and NWHL Streaming Dates Mean More TV Deals?

The NWHL has come a long way from its launch party in April, when the only questions that could be answered were on the subject of team names, who would head the league and the players’ association, and which bus company teams would use to travel from arena to arena.

Wednesday, Alison Overholt, Editor-in-chief at espnW announced via her Twitter that ESPN had come to an agreement with the NWHL to show some of its upcoming Boston Pride home games on their online streaming channel, ESPN3, and its app, WatchESPN.

While the league indicated in an email to the media that the Boston Pride would lead the way in professional-quality streaming due to being the most broadcast-ready of the league’s four venues, with the Buffalo Beauts’ HarborCenter close behind. The Pride’s home arena, the Bright-Landry Center, already has a production team  in place at Harvard along with clear sightlines, space for multiple cameras and high-quality lighting.

Interestingly enough, six Pride home games appear on the schedule, but at the moment there are no Buffalo home games scheduled, but rather four home New York Riveters games. This is likely due to the Beauts being on the road frequently during the second half of the season as well as Aviator having dedicated space for the Riveters.

ESPN3 has ten NWHL games scheduled to air, amounting to approximately a third of the remaining games in the season.

The NWHL was careful to note to the media that this agreement could change as the league’s capabilities evolve, and could see either an increase or decrease in games broadcast via ESPN3. However, the base number of games listed on ESPN3’s schedule is a promising start for the new league, who, as one fan pointed out online, went from YouTube to NESN to ESPN in a two-week span of its inaugural season. (S/t to James Lascerenza for the quip.)

ESPN3 routinely shows broadcasts being aired on regional sports networks, such as the NESN broadcast of the Pride’s home games. As such, it is entirely possible that the four New York home games being aired from Aviator are also games that will be picked up by a local network, such as Sports New York, the Madison Square Garden Network or New York Public Television.

If viewers live in an area covered by NESN (or other hypothetical networks) they will have to turn to their televisions to watch a game as their stream will ostensibly be blacked out. Additionally, as part of the agreement with ESPN, when ESPN3 is carrying a game, the NWHL’s YouTube stream, Cross-Ice Pass, will not show that game live. As such, viewers outside the televised network’s area will have to turn to ESPN3 for coverage.

ESPN3 will be blacked out for viewers in New England.

ESPN’s mass reach has more than 90 million subscribers and capabilities for said broadcast will extend to ESPN3 online and the WatchESPN App. This excludes fans who live outside the United States as well as many who live within the U.S. but whose Internet service provider does not pay a fee to ESPN, bundling the services together.

The games are as follows on ESPN3’s schedule:

Date Time Teams Location
11/29/2015 3:00 pm EST Connecticut Whale @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
12/6/2015 3:30 pm EST New York Riveters @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
12/13/2015 6:30 pm EST Connecticut Whale @ New York Riveters Aviator Sports & Events
12/20/2015 3:00 pm EST Buffalo Beauts @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
1/3/2016 3:00 pm EST Buffalo Beauts @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
1/17/2016 3:00 pm EST Connecticut Whale @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
1/17/2016 7:00 pm EST Buffalo Beauts @ New York Riveters Aviator Sports & Events
2/7/2016 7:00 pm EST Boston Pride @ New York Riveters Aviator Sports & Events
2/14/2016 2:00 pm EST Buffalo Beauts @ New York Riveters Aviator Sports & Events
2/14/2016 3:00 pm EST Connecticut Whale @ Boston Pride Harvard Bright-Landry Center
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