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Athletes Unlimited Reveals Viewership For Inaugural Season

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(Photo by Jade Hewitt via Athletes Unlimited)

Athletes Unlimited wrapped up its inaugural softball season last week and saw Olympian and softball pitching legend Cat Osterman become its first-ever champion. Following the end of the season, the league revealed its viewership total for its 23 games aired on ESPN's platforms in the United States.

According to league sources, 3.9 million viewers tuned in for 23 contests that were aired in the U.S. on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3—ESPN's streaming service.

Another seven of the 30 total Athletes Unlimited contests were aired on CBS Sports Network, but those viewership numbers, along with the league's international viewership figures, have not been revealed. The league's distribution agreement with the Olympic Channel allowed it to stream all 30 of its games live in more than 180 territories outside the U.S.

Co-founded by Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros, Athletes Unlimited operates within a unique model that eliminates team owners, general managers and the traditional fixed-team format. Its inaugural softball season was five weeks long and took place at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Ill.

League officials announced at the end of the 2020 season that a second Athletes Unlimited softball season would be held next August in Rosemont.

Throughout the inaugural season, the new women's pro sports model found a unique way to engage softball fans with a format that had the top four point earners each week pick their fellow teammates in a draft. Finishing behind Osterman on the league's leaderboard was Jessie Warren, Victoria Hayward and Erika Piancastelli, with Haylie McCleney earning Athletes Unlimited's first-ever Defensive Player of the Year award.

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