Softball’s Stock Rising on Cable Networks

By Staff

Coaching Management, 11.7, October 2003,

This past season, NCAA Division I college softball was watched by more fans on national television than ever before. UCLA’s ninth-inning 1-0 victory May 26 over the University of California in the College World Series championship game drew a 1.57 cable rating, the highest ever for college softball on ESPN, according to the NCAA. The Series averaged 0.88 on ESPN and 0.60 on ESPN2, both the highest ratings ever since the Division I championship has been carried on national cable.

In addition, College Sports Television, the nation’s first all-college sports programming service, began to cover softball this spring. The fledgling network, which provides content to cable and satellite television systems, carried several Division I match-ups in May. Among them were three contests pitting perennial power Arizona against Pac-10 foes, a Tulsa-Hawaii game, and the Conference USA championship game.

“We had a really strong softball schedule this past spring, considering we just launched in April,” says CSTV spokesperson Eric Handler.

There’s no way to say how widely viewed the CSTV games were, however. “To be honest with you, ratings are nonexistent,” says Handler, “because right now, we’re just on DirecTV, and we’re just in the infancy stages.”

More coverage will come next season, but Handler can’t say exactly how much. “We’re putting together the fall-sports package now,” he says. “We wouldn’t be attacking softball 2004 until the winter or so.”

Even with more softball games televised, women’s sports appears to be getting less coverage than in the past on daily sports-news programs. C.A. Tuggle, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of North Carolina, and doctoral student Terry Adams recorded and analyzed 30 days of ESPN SportsCenter programs in May and June 2002 and found proportionally fewer stories were aired about women’s sports than during a similar period in 1995. According to The NCAA News, the ratio of stories about men’s sports to women’s sports was 25 to one in 1995 and 48 to one in 2002.

For more information on how you can get your games televised on CSTV, Handler can be e-mailed at