The Arena Football League kicked off a new season over the weekend. Just before games began, the league announced that it had a new media rights deal in place with ESPN that makes every game available digitally.
Regular season games will air on ESPN3 and the ESPN app. They will not be behind the ESPN+ paywall. One game will be on linear TV. ESPN2 has committed to airing the league’s championship game, Arena Bowl XXXII in July.
“We are pleased and proud to be working with ESPN and think they will be a great partner to help us grow the AFL,” League Commissioner Randall Boe said in a press release.
The Arena League has fallen on hard times in recent years. After arena football peaked in popularity in the early 2000s, the league has made some drastic changes to stay afloat. Those included canceling the entire 2009 season and returning with a fraction of the teams it once had. What used to be a nationwide league with as many as nineteen teams spread across the country, now has only six teams all concentrated in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic regions of the country.