The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is a men's professional box lacrosse league in North America. The NLL when it was first formed in 1987, was originally known as the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League and after two years, the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. The NLL would take on its current name beginning in 1998.

Early years on regional sports networks (1987–1990)

In Philadelphia, Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League games were televised by PRISM.[1] Larry Rosen,[2] Tony Seaman, and Mark Zumoff[3] were the commentators for PRISM. Meanwhile in New England, the 1990 Championship Game between the Philadelphia Wings and New England Blazers was broadcast on NESN[4] with Leif Elsmo and Steve Glover on the call.

National coverage

1990s

Prime Network (1991–1993)

From 1991-1993, the Prime Network[5] was the primary national television broadcasters for the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. Commentators that Prime employed included Craig Johnson[6] and Leif Elsmo as well as Bill Beroza, Bruce Todman,[7] and Jon Horton.[8] For the Buffalo market, 1992 Championship Game between the Buffalo Bandits and Philadelphia Wings was broadcast live on Empire Sports Network.

ESPN and ESPN2 (1994–1999)

On November 30, 1993, ESPN signed a six-year agreement with the National Lacrosse League. This particular package of 12 games would be telecast on ESPN2,[9] on a delayed basis. The first ever Monday night game on ESPN2 featured the Detroit Turbos and the Baltimore Thunder. Playoff broadcasts would meanwhile, air on both ESPN[10] and ESPN2.

ESPN's broadcast of the 1994 Championship Game[11] between the Philadelphia Wings the Buffalo Bandits, was the first live telecast by ESPN of a National Lacrosse League game. ESPN employed Leif Elsmo,[12] Kristi Lee, and Quint Kessenich[13] as commentators during this period. On December 1, 1995, it was announced that ESPN would broadcast games on Monday nights beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET beginning in the 1996 season.

On January 9, 1998, the NLL announced deals with regional sports networks such as Comcast SportsNet, Buffalo's Empire Sports Network, and Washington, D.C.'s Home Team Sports.

The CTV SportsNet used Joe Bowen,[14] Brian Shanahan, and Suneel Joshi on commentary for their Canadian coverage of the 1999 Championship Game between the Toronto Rock and Rochester Knighthawks.

2000s

CNN/SI and Rogers SportsNet (2001–2002)

For the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, CNN Sports Illustrated[15][16][17][18] broadcast 17 regular season games[19] beginning on November 24, 2001, the All-Star Game,[20] and five playoff games, including the Championship Game. Just like with ESPN's prior coverage, CNN/SI used Leif Elsmo and Quint Kessenich on commentary.

Meanwhile, on September 20, 2001, the NLL announced that Canada's Rogers Sportsnet (formally CTV SportsNet) would broadcast 26 regular season games, the Playoffs, and the Championship Game during the 2001-2002 season.[21]

Fox Sports Net (2004)

On December 17, 2003, the league announced a new partnership with Fox Sports Net to broadcast nine regular season games NLL games beginning as well as the All-Star Game.[22] Fox Sports Net employed Mitch Hyder, Brian Shanahan, and Bill Hall as commentators.

Five days after the Fox Sports Net deal was announced, the NLL announced an agreement with New York's YES Network to carry eight regular season games in featuring the Buffalo Bandits and the Rochester Knighthawks for the 2004 season.

NBC, ESPN2, and American One Television (2005–2006)

The NLL had had its All-Star Games and Championship games on NBC in 2005 and ESPN2 in 2006. When NBC aired the NLL, it marked first time that live broadcasts of lacrosse would be nationally aired on American network television. Mike Emrick,[23] Brian Shanahan, and Mark Morgan provided commentary for NBC. The Championship Game was also televised in Canada on The Score, and internationally via CNBC International, CNBC Asia, and on Armed Forces Network.

On February 1, 2005, the NLL announced new broadcast partnerships with the America One Television Network, Cox Sports Television and Comcast Regional Networks. One month later, the NLL announced an agreement with Canada's Bell Express Vu, to broadcast out-of-market games to on its pay-per-view channels.

Versus (2007)

In 2007, Versus regularly scheduled NLL games on Saturday nights.[24] Versus however, cancelled their NLL coverage in 2008 season, due to a dispute between the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association and the NLL owners in completing the collective bargaining agreement.[25]

2010s

Versus and CBS Sports (2011-2012)

Further information: NLL on CBS

For the 2011 season, the NLL returned to Versus, beginning with coverage of the All-Star Game. This was followed by 6 weekly games, and 2 playoff games, one of these being the championship game.[26] Versus would drop the NLL for the league's 2012 season; U.S. broadcast rights were instead picked up by CBS Sports Network.[27]

CBS outbid Fox for the rights to the package of National Lacrosse League games it for the entire 2011 season including playoffs. CBS entered the bidding to regain the National Lacrosse League rights beginning in the 2011, only to again be outbid by Fox, which agreed to pay an undisclosed amount for the three-year broadcast contract.[28]

In 2012, the NLL shifted the package to a new model to increase its prominence. The entire package would be produced by a separate rightsholder, who would hold rights to simulcast a portion of the package on their respective network. CBS was the first rightsholder under this model, airing season games on broadcast television, and producing the remainder of the package to air exclusively on NLL TV to satisfy its carriage agreements.

Beginning with the 2012 NLL season, U.S. broadcast rights shifted to the CBS Sports Network with the segment NLL on CBS, carrying 8 regular season games, all of them live.[29] Regional sports networks would also provide some coverage of individual teams.

The Lacrosse Network, Fox Sports GO, and CBS Sports (2013-2017)

In 2012, the NLL reached an agreement with The Lacrosse Network, a partnered YouTube channel, to distribute all of the 2013 season's games onto YouTube. All games were available on YouTube after the broadcast and most games were broadcast live.[30]

More than 50 games[31] from the 2016 season was broadcast over Fox Sports GO to viewers both in Canada and the US.[32] Beginning with the 2016 division semifinals, the NLL used a new streaming service at NLLTV.com, powered by NeuLion.[33]

In 2017, CBS Sports president Sean McManus said regarding the prospects of the NLL returning to CBS in the foreseeable future. "It's a great addition to our entire CBS Sports line up which includes golf and college basketball."[34] NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz reiterated the CBS executive's words by adding “We are thrilled to continue to build upon our historic broadcasting partnerships with the addition of CBS Sports.[35] The future of sports is an ever-changing viewing experience, and bringing in a world class organization and platform like CBS Sports Digital is truly exciting for our fans."[36]

Additionally, for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, CBS Sports promoted NLL games across its digital platforms, which exposed a larger audience to the League. CBS already has a long-running deal with the Patriot Lacrosse League but never an expansion into professional lacrosse until this deal.[37]

B/R Live (2018-present)

On March 27, 2018, the league announced a partnership with B/R Live app, Turner Sports' live streaming service, to stream all live and on-demand games starting with the 2018-2019 season.[38] B/R Live is available to anyone in North America and costs $39.99 for the season, $7.99 for the month and $2.99 per game. The service is available on iTunes and google play, as well on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. The NLL announced that the first three games of the season would be free to view on B/R Live.

For the national broadcasting teams assigned to call the 2019 NLL Finals, New England Black Wolves announcer, Brendan Glasheen[39] would provide play-by-play with Toronto Rock color commentator Brian Shanahan as the analyst for the games hosted by the East Division winner. Meanwhile, Colorado Mammoth announcer Teddy Jenner would provide play-by-play along with Vancouver Warriors color commentator Brad Challoner as the analyst for the games hosted by the West Division winner. Finally, Toronto Rock floor reporter Ashley Docking would serve as the sideline reporter for all games during the NLL Finals.

On December 12, 2019, the NLL announced that they would stream the games[40] for free across its partner B/R Live platforms in the US and on Twitter and Facebook globally. The streams would be available starting on December 14, 2019, with a game between New England and Saskatchewan.

Local coverage

Team Summary
Buffalo Bandits Buffalo Bandits games can be heard on Buffalo's Entercom stations, either WGR 550 AM or WWKB 1520 AM, with a simulcast on WGWE-FM 105.9, the Seneca nation's radio station in Little Valley. John Gurtler, former play-by-play man for the Buffalo Sabres, handles announcing duties, while former Bandit Randy Mearns handles color commentary. Home games are streamed live on NLL.com.
Saskatchewan Rush Regarding local broadcasts, the Rush reached a deal with CKBL-FM (radio) and SaskTel MaxTV (TV) to broadcast its 2016 Western Conference playoff games.[41] CKBL-FM also broadcast the 2016 National Lacrosse League Finals between the Rush and the Buffalo Bandits with John Fraser calling play-by-play and Casey Guerin as colour commentator. For 2017-2019, The Saskatchewan Rush came to a local radio agreement with Saskatoon Media Group that would see all home, away and playoff games broadcast on CJMK-FM (98COOL-FM) for the 2016–17 and 2017-18 seasons with play by play by Tanner Fetch, and return to CKBL-FM (92.9 The Bull) for 2018-2019 with Dave Thomas as the radio voice of the Rush. Also for the 2018-2019 season, a bi-weekly 30 minute TV program on the Saskatchewan Rush will be broadcast on Saturday mornings by Global Saskatoon and Global Regina, produced and hosted by Daniella Ponticelli.[42][43][44][45][46][47] All Saskatchewan Rush games are telecast through Bleacher Report's B/R Live in both Canada and the United States. For the Rush home games in Saskatoon, Ryan Flaherty is the play-by-play announcer, Former Vancouver Stealth play-by-play announcer Jake Elliott is the colour commentator, and Daniella Ponticelli is in-between team benches as the floor reporter.[48]

See also

References

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  3. ^ 1989 MILL Championship Game, Philadelphia Wings vs New York Saints on YouTube
  4. ^ 1990 MILL Championship on YouTube
  5. ^ Crossley, Drew (January 2, 2020). "1990-1993 Pittsburgh Bulls". FUN WHILE IT LASTED.
  6. ^ 1992 MILL Championship Game: Buffalo Bandits at Philadelphia Wings on YouTube
  7. ^ 1991 MILL Championship on YouTube
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  9. ^ Brown, Doug (January 8, 1994). "MAJOR INDOOR LACROSSE LEAGUE PREVIEW". The Baltimore Sun.
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  13. ^ Kessenich, Quint (May 11, 202). "Quint: True To Yourself". Inside Lacrosse.
  14. ^ 1999 NLL Championship game: Rochester Knighthawks at Toronto Rock on YouTube
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  17. ^ Umstead, R. Thomas (September 23, 2001). "CNN/SI Shifts Focus From News to Events".
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  36. ^ https://www.uslaxmagazine.com/pro/nll/nll-announces-streaming-partnership-with-cbs-sports-digital
  37. ^ https://www.collegecrosse.com/2017/12/5/16740206/nll-partners-cbs-sports-digital-to-stream-live-on-demand-regular-season-playoff-games-sportslive
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  48. ^ "Sask Rush names play-by-play broadcasters". Clark's Crossing Gazette.