ESPN plans to treat college wrestling fans to its most extensive coverage ever of the NCAA Championships next month at Chesapeake Energy Arena. For the first time, fans will be able to watch all of the matches of their favorite wrestlers.
ESPN will provide coverage of all eight mats on its digital platform, ESPN3, and network coverage on ESPNU and ESPN will increase from 11-plus hours to 19 hours, covering all sessions of the championships March 20-22.
“We certainly have taken an aggressive approach this year for our coverage,” said Brent Colborne, director of Programming & Championships for NCAA Championships for ESPN. “We will be showcasing every single match and every single mat throughout the entire championship across our networks and platforms.”
The increased coverage also will boost ESPN personnel for the championships. Including ESPN3 mat reporters, about 15 announcers will be used to go with about 50 staffers.
Ratings for last year's championship round from Des Moines, Iowa, on ESPN were up 50 percent from 2012 (0.6 vs. 0.4), thanks to added excitement from Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake winning his fourth NCAA title at an unprecedented fourth different weight. Dake defeated Penn State's David Taylor, 5-4, at 165 pounds, the final match of the night, as Penn State won its third consecutive team title. Viewership for the finals increased 55 percent from 554,000 in 2012 to 860,000.