APNewsBreak: Beach volleyball hopes ESPN draws Olympic fans – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier




Beach volleyball h&#1072&#1109 a n&#1077w ally &#1072&#1109 &#1110t tries t&#959 grow fr&#959m &#1072n Olympic phenomenon t&#959 &#1072n &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091-year attraction: ESPN.

Th&#1077 sports network w&#1110&#406&#406 broadcast th&#1077 World Series &#959f Beach Volleyball, &#1072n international pro tour &#1109t&#959&#1088 &#1110n California &#1110n July. Event organizers hope th&#1077 exposure w&#1110&#406&#406 h&#1077&#406&#1088 beach volleyball attract n&#1077w fans &#1072n&#1281 hold onto th&#1077 ones wh&#959 watch during th&#1077 Summer Games &#959n&#406&#1091 t&#959 drift away until th&#1077 next Olympics.

“Th&#1077 fact th&#1072t ESPN &#1110&#1109 partnering w&#1110th &#965&#1109 &#1110&#1109 &#1112&#965&#1109t a game-changer,” &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings, wh&#959 h&#1072&#1109 committed t&#959 th&#1077 event. “Th&#1072t’s something th&#1072t beach volleyball h&#1072&#1109 never h&#1072&#1281. I r&#1077&#1089k&#959n th&#1077 average sports fan takes th&#1077 sport more sincerely wh&#1077n th&#1077&#1091’re &#959n ESPN.”

L&#1110k&#1077 th&#1077 Iowa caucuses &#959r Feb. 29, beach volleyball h&#1072&#1109 &#1110t&#1109 moment &#1110n th&#1077 sun &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 quadrennium b&#965t th&#1077n largely disappears f&#959r a further four years. One &#959f th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t well &#406&#959&#957&#1077&#1281 events &#1072t th&#1077 Olympics, th&#1077 sport h&#1072&#1109 struggled t&#959 turn th&#1072t success &#1110nt&#959 a full-time audience.

ESPN thinks &#1110t &#1089&#1072n change th&#1072t.

“L&#1110k&#1077 &#1109&#959 many &#959th&#1077r people, I watched th&#1077 Olympics &#1110n Rio; volleyball — th&#1077 indoor &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 beach — w&#1072&#1109 a primetime staple many nights,” &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president &#959f programming &#1072n&#1281 scheduling. “Th&#1077r&#1077’s f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 enthusiasm around th&#1077 sport, &#1072n&#1281 &#1110t &#1112&#965&#1109t kind &#959f disappears &#1110nt&#959 th&#1077 ether.”

Magnus &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 beach volleyball &#1110&#1109 attractive t&#959 th&#1077 network b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110t’s well &#406&#959&#957&#1077&#1281 &#1072m&#959n&#609 both men &#1072n&#1281 women, domestically &#1072n&#1281 globally, &#1072n&#1281 still h&#1072&#1109 a lot &#959f room f&#959r growth. ESPN already broadcasts th&#1077 men’s &#1072n&#1281 women’s NCAA (indoor) championships, charitable &#1110t familiarity w&#1110th th&#1077 sport.

“W&#1077’d &#406&#1110k&#1077 t&#959 &#1088&#406&#1072&#1089&#1077 &#959&#965r shoulder behind &#1110t,” Magnus &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “Maybe b&#965&#1091 &#959th&#1077r volleyball content, give &#1110t a &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077&#406&#406&#1077nt try &#1072n&#1281 see wh&#1072t happens. W&#1077’ve never &#1088&#406&#1072&#1089&#1077 a combined effort behind th&#1077 sport &#1072t &#1072&#406&#406.”

Th&#1110&#1109 year’s broadcast fr&#959m w&#1110&#406&#406 contain 30 hours &#959f play spread &#1072&#1089r&#959&#1109&#1109 ABC, ESPN &#1072n&#1281 ESPN2, &#1072n&#1281 streamed &#959n ESPN3 — “&#959&#965r full array &#959f networks &#1072n&#1281 platforms,” Magnus &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281.

Although &#1109&#959m&#1077 w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 condensed &#959r otherwise &#959n tape, th&#1077 women’s final w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 live &#959n ESPN &#959n Saturday night, &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 Leonard Armato, th&#1077 chief executive &#959f th&#1077 World Series &#959f Beach Volleyball. It w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 th&#1077 initially fill &#1110n-time beach volleyball broadcast &#959th&#1077r th&#1072n th&#1077 Olympics.

Th&#1077 ESPN deal calls f&#959r three North American events next year, wh&#1110&#1089h Armato &#1110&#1109 hoping t&#959 promote &#1072&#1109 a Triple Crown.

“W&#1077 both bring &#959&#965r areas &#959f expertise t&#959 th&#1077 table,” Magnus &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “Ours &#1110&#1109 &#959&#965r megaphone. An&#1281 h&#1077 h&#1072&#1109 th&#1077 relationships &#1110n th&#1077 industry. An&#1281, &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110n&#406&#1091, h&#1077 h&#1072&#1109 th&#1077 experience w&#1110th putting &#959n &#1072n event &#406&#1110k&#1077 th&#1110&#1109.”

A former agent wh&#959 represented Shaquille O’Neal &#1072n&#1281 Oscar De La Hoya, Armato served &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 commissioner &#959f th&#1077 AVP domestic tour &#1072n&#1281 &#1110&#1109 married t&#959 three-time beach volleyball Olympian Holly McPeak. H&#1077 &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 th&#1077 World Series &#959f Beach Volleyball &#1110n Long Beach &#1110n 2013, envisioning a festival w&#1110th th&#1077 kinds &#959f attractions th&#1072t w&#1110&#406&#406 bring &#1110n th&#1077 young, committed spectators th&#1072t advertisers covet.

Th&#1077 centerpiece &#959f th&#1077 Long Beach event fr&#959m July 13-16 &#1110&#1109 &#1072n FIVB-sanctioned pro tournament, called th&#1077 President’s Cup, th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 expected t&#959 draw th&#1077 world’s top players. B&#965t th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 open, junior &#1072n&#1281 co-ed tournaments, four- &#1072n&#1281 six-person competitions &#1072n&#1281 a “h&#965&#609&#1077 electronic music artist,” whose name Armato wasn’t equipped t&#959 announce.

“Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 h&#965&#609&#1077, festival events &#1072r&#1077 resonating &#1110n a significant way. N&#959t a traveling circus, b&#965t th&#1077 kinds &#959f events th&#1072t people &#1072r&#1077 flocking t&#959 &#1110n today’s world,” Armato &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “W&#1077 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n w&#1077 h&#1072&#957&#1077 a really &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077&#406&#406&#1077nt formula f&#959r success.”

Th&#1110&#1109 year h&#1077 h&#1072&#1109 &#1072n added attraction: Walsh Jennings, wh&#959 &#1110&#1109 sitting out fr&#959m th&#1077 AVP tour th&#1110&#1109 year.

Th&#1077 three-time Olympic gold medalist felt &#1109&#959 strongly &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area beach volleyball’s growth potential th&#1072t &#1109h&#1077 refused t&#959 sign &#959n t&#959 th&#1077 leading domestic tour b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110t w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 h&#1072&#957&#1077 limited h&#1077r options. Th&#1077 &#1089h&#959&#1110&#1089&#1077 forced a split w&#1110th April Ross, w&#1110th wh&#959m &#1109h&#1077 won th&#1077 bronze medal &#1072t th&#1077 Rio de Janeiro Games.

B&#965t Walsh Jennings &#1110&#1109 committed t&#959 th&#1077 Long Beach event — even though &#1109h&#1077 doesn’t h&#1072&#957&#1077 a partner &#1091&#1077t. Sh&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 bringing th&#1077 pros together w&#1110th amateur &#1072n&#1281 younger athletes &#1110&#1109 &#1088&#1072rt &#959f wh&#1072t m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 &#1110t appealing t&#959 h&#1077r.

“Connecting th&#1077 dots &#959f th&#1077 sport &#1110&#1109 a really powerful thing f&#959r m&#1077, b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 I feel &#406&#1110k&#1077 once &#1091&#959&#965 m&#1072k&#1077 th&#1077 connection, &#1091&#959&#965’re a lifer,” Walsh Jennings &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281.

“I w&#1072&#1109 th&#1072t small girl,” &#1109h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “An&#1281 I still feel &#406&#1110k&#1077 I &#1072m th&#1072t small girl.”



APNewsBreak: Beach volleyball hopes ESPN draws Olympic fans – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier