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SBJ/December 18 - 24, 2000/No Topic Name
Lifetime shifts its WNBA games to ESPN2
Published December 18, 2000
Lifetime Television has restructured its contract with the WNBA to move all of its game coverage to ESPN2.
Under the restructured deal, Lifetime will honor its contract with the league, which goes through 2002, through a weekly half-hour lifestyle show that will run during the WNBA season and highlight the on-court and off-court lives of WNBA players and coaches. Lifetime's traditional Friday night schedule will now appear on Thursday nights on ESPN2, which will also carry some Sunday afternoon games. NBC and ESPN will carry 10 and 12 games, respectively.
The change is part of Lifetime's effort to move away from women's sports event coverage and toward more story-oriented sports programming, said Meredith Wagner, senior vice president of public affairs for Lifetime.
"This is very exciting for us because now we will be able to do what we do best, which is tell women's stories, and ESPN can do what they do best, which is cover live sports," Wagner said. Over the last year, Lifetime has discontinued coverage of several women's games and tournaments, including a women's college basketball tournament, an LPGA Tour event and now WNBA games. The network will continue to carry figure skating, which Wagner said "really resonates with our viewers."
The broadcast changes were made by mutual agreement, said WNBA officials.
"I think, as we enter our fifth season, it is very important to have our games on sports networks," said Teri Schindler, vice president of broadcasting for the WNBA. "ESPN is home of the NCAA women's tournament, and so this gives nice continuity from March through the WNBA season."
The restructured deal gives ESPN more live prime-time summer programming, an important commodity for that time of year.