ESPN Expands NCAA Wrestling Championship Coverage: Every Mat to be Shown for the First Time
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Gracie Blackburn (ESPN)
ESPNâ€™s long-standing commitment to expanding coverage of wrestling continues with plans for the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship in Oklahoma City March 20- 22. For the first time, live coverage of every mat during the tournament will be available on an ESPN network. For the last five years, ESPN3 has carried an exclusive four-screen, four-mat viewing experience unique to wrestling. The expansion will create an unprecedented eight-mat viewing experience on ESPN3 for the early rounds and six-mat coverage for the Semifinals, with full match coverage continuing on ESPN3, ESPNU or ESPN and WatchESPN for the Semifinal, Medal and Championship rounds.
ESPN began airing NCAA wrestling championships in 1980, its first year as a network, and has provided live coverage of every round since 2011.
â€œThere is an increasing appetite for the NCAA Wrestling Championship from the sportâ€™s avid fan base, especially on our digital platforms,â€ said Brent Colborne, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions. â€œWe continue to look for new ways to serve wrestling fans and live coverage of every mat on ESPN3 will provide an unprecedented amount of comprehensive coverage for the event.â€
The championship continues to see success across ESPN with a 55 percent increase year-to-year growth in viewers for the 2013 final match and 12.6 million live minutes viewed on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, up 13 percent. ESPN networks commitment to the championship extends through 2024.