TBT and ESPN Announce Multiyear Deal
By: TBT Staff | @thetournament
ESPN Commits to Significant Increases in Coverage of TBT Across All Platforms in Multi-Year Deal
BOSTON, MA – [March 6, 2017] – The Basketball Tournament (TBT) and ESPN today announced a multi-year extension of their exclusive multiplatform broadcast rights agreement, with ESPN committing to increasing coverage of the fast-growing event, which features 64 teams of top professional, college alumni, and international basketball players competing in a single-elimination 5-on-5 tournament for a winner-take-all $2 million prize.
“It’s exciting that ESPN recognizes the power of TBT to reach the new age, young, sports audience. What started as a fun idea among friends has grown into a major, annual basketball event,” said Jonathan Mugar, Founder and CEO of TBT. “ESPN has been a tremendous supporter of TBT since the beginning, and we’re thrilled to continue our relationship with ESPN increasing its coverage and promotion to help us reach even more fans.”
“The TBT audience on ESPN continues to grow, particularly among younger demos, and it's great competition with former college and NBA players competing against everyday athletes for a big prize," said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming & Scheduling. "We are proud to continue ESPN's association with TBT and offer even more exposure of the event this summer."
The highly-competitive tournament has attracted some of the best basketball players currently playing around the world. In 2016, 63 recent NBA players competed, and 20 teams were composed of alumni from Division I programs including Syracuse, Michigan State, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis, and Villanova. Overseas Elite, a team put together by a CAA agent consisting of his clients, won for the second year in a row. A record 353 teams consisting of more than 2,150 players applied to compete in TBT last year – nearly three times as many as the inaugural event in 2014. TBT’s physical footprint also continues to expand, with new cities hosting regional competitions in 2017 and multiple cities vying to host the 2017 championship weekend.
Ratings for TBT games on ESPN platforms in 2016 increased across all demographics over 2015, led by a +140% increase among younger viewers (18-34). As part of the new agreement, ESPN has committed to airing at least 15 TBT games on ESPN or ESPN2 in 2017 (up from nine in 2016). All 63 games will air on ESPN networks, beginning Saturday, July 8.
Entry into TBT is free, with an application period that runs from April 1, 2017 through June 1, 2017. Teams compete for spots in the tournament by soliciting votes from fans and supporters via social media. Applicants must be 18 or older and willing to forego their amateur status.