The tournament from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., will begin Thursday, March 20, with the first and second sessions -- never before televised -- on ESPNU. ESPN3's individual mat feeds will allow fans to watch every match, including the wrestle-back bracket, accompanied by live commentary throughout the tournament. Additionally, for computer users, ESPN3 will once again offer multi-mat simultaneous viewing which allows fans to watch up to four different mats at one time.
"We've seen significant audience growth in our NCAA Wrestling Championships coverage over the last few years which reflects the insatiable appetite wrestling fans have for live competition," said Brent Colborne, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions. "The addition of the first two sessions on television, combined with our ‘every mat, every match' digital strategy will provide the ultimate viewing experience for them."
The 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships finals were the most-viewed since 2004, the first year ESPN televised the finals live. Overall, ESPN and ESPNU's 2013 Wrestling Championships coverage reached 5.4 million viewers in the course of two days. Digitally, ESPN3 and WatchESPN combined to generate 12.68 million live minutes viewed throughout three days of coverage, up 13% from 2012.
ESPN began covering the NCAA Wrestling Division I Championships in 1980. Live telecasts of the championship finals began in 2004 and preliminary round telecasts began in 2005. Since 2011, ESPN has provided live coverage of all six sessions on ESPN3.