When 44 of the top volleyball players in the world come together at Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, TX for Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural volleyball league from February 27 through March 29 fans will be able to watch all 30 matches live around the globe. Today, Athletes Unlimited announced partnerships with CBS Sports Network and FOX Sports whereby 22 of the 30 matches will be broadcast live on TV. Athletes Unlimited will stream the remaining eight matches live across a network of digital partners, without a paywall. Details will be announced at a later date.
As the lead television partner, CBS Sports Network will televise seven matches in the United States and Canada, including each week’s final match. FOX Sports will televise 15 matches on FS2, with the potential for some to move to FS1 as schedules permit. The matches will also air on FOX Deportes in Spanish.
“The opportunity to work with CBS and FOX Sports to broadcast our matches and showcase our world-class athletes across a variety of platforms is exactly what Athletes Unlimited is all about,” said Jon Patricof, CEO and Co-Founder of Athletes Unlimited. “Volleyball is a massive global sport and is always one of the top-rated sports during the Olympics. Our TV partnerships will ensure we are providing the widest and biggest platform the sport has ever received at the pro level in both English and Spanish.”
“We were very pleased with the success of the Athletes Unlimited Softball season earlier this year and look forward to continued success with Volleyball in 2021 on CBS Sports Network.” said Dan Weinberg, CBS Sports Executive Vice President, Programming. “We’re excited to bring the innovative competition with some of the best players in the sport to Volleyball fans across the US.”
“FOX Sports is committed to bringing fans exceptional performances from across the sports world, and we are thrilled to partner with Athletes Unlimited for this exciting new opportunity in the volleyball space,” said Bill Wanger, EVP, Head of Programming & Scheduling, FOX Sports.
Kevin Barnett and Salima Rockwell will serve as the broadcast team for all of the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball matches. Barnett is a former American volleyball player who played for the United States National team at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics. He previously worked as a broadcaster for the Pac-12 Network and FOX Sports West in LA and will now handle play-by-play duties for Athletes Unlimited. Rockwell is a former American volleyball player who was part of the United States Women’s National team at the 1998 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan. She will serve as the color analyst for the upcoming season.
Athletes Unlimited Volleyball is officially sanctioned by USA Volleyball and will feature 44 of the world’s best players including seven Olympians from five different countries, accomplished professional players and recent NCAA graduates during its 30-game season. In addition to Jordan Larson (Two-Time Olympic Medalist, University of Nebraska) and Karsta Lowe (Olympic Medalist, UCLA), Sheilla Castro (Two-time Olympic Champion), Bethania de la Cruz (Olympian and Two-time Pan American Games Champion), Ozge Kirdar (Turkish National Team member, 2016-17 Challenge Cup Champion and MVP), Ciara Michel (British National Team member, University of Miami), Aury Cruz (Named Best Server at Olympic Qualifications Tournament for Puerto Rico, University of Florida) join confirmed players which include Sherridan Atkinson (International Star, Purdue University), Katie Carter (International Star, UCLA ), Tiffany Clark (All-American Honorable Mention, Wisconsin), Taylor Cook (International Star, U of Colorado), Nia Grant (International Star, Penn State), Sareea Freeman (3x ACC Champion, Florida), Erin Fairs (2015 ACC Champion, Louisville), Erica Handley (2020 Czech Republic Cup Winner, Minnesota), Kristen Tupac-Hahn (International Star, Iowa State), Cassidy Lichtman (Two-Time Pan American Gold Medalist with Team USA, Stanford ), Molly Lohman (2016 Global Challenge MVP, University of Minnesota), Valerie Nichol (German Super Cup Winner, Purdue University), Deja McClendon (Unanimous All Big Ten, Penn State), Molly McCage (All-American, University of Texas), Samantha Middleborn (International Star, Cal State), Amanda Peterson (Sports Impact Classic MVP, Ohio State) and Paige Tapp (Two-time Pan Am Games Gold Medalist with Team USA, University of Minnesota).
Athletes Unlimited leagues feature a range of innovations to bring athletes and fans a unique and intense version of the sport. Individual athletes earn points based on team wins and individual performance and become the champions in team sports. Points can be earned on every play and the leaderboard changes constantly. Teams will change each week, with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams.
In addition to an innovative new approach to sports, Athletes Unlimited offers professional development resources to help players expand their career opportunities, as well as engage in civic leadership initiatives and support a number of non-profit partners through the Athletes Causes program.
Athletes Unlimited was co-founded by Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros and is supported by its Advisory Board comprised of high-profile contributors from sports, business and entertainment. Members include U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team icon Abby Wambach; two-time NBA champion and entrepreneur Kevin Durant; Grand Slam champion and former world number one tennis star Caroline Wozniacki; ESPN broadcaster and four-time first-team All-American softball standout Jessica Mendoza; two-time Olympic medalist and captain of the USA Women’s National Volleyball team Jordan Larson; Thirty Five Ventures co-founder Rich Kleiman; USA Volleyball Women’s National Team head coach Karch Kiraly; International Olympic Committee member and four-time hockey Olympian Angela Ruggiero; Bleacher Report journalist Taylor Rooks and former player and past President of the United States Tennis Association Katrina Adams. The Athletes Unlimited Advisory Board will offer strategic advice and help the organization maintain best practices as the property grows.