- Third Consecutive Year with Every Session Televised, Every Mat, Every Match on ESPN3
- Olympic Trial Qualifiers will Participate
- ESPN: Semifinals and Finals in Prime Time
- ESPNU: 13 hours of Coverage; Complete First, Second, Third and Medal Rounds
- ESPN3: Multi-Mat Viewing Throughout Preliminary Rounds; Off the Mat Programming During Finals
- Actor Billy Baldwin Joins ESPN’s Accomplished List of Analysts
The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be live from Madison Square Garden for the first time ever and ESPN will televise every session and cover every mat, every match for the entire three days of the sport’s premier event (March 17-19). This is the third year of every session, mat and match coverage. The NCAA announced the full 2016 Division I Wrestling brackets Wednesday night.
2016 Summer Olympic Contenders
With the 2016 Summer Olympics looming, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships mean more this year as all NCAA Champions will automatically qualify for the Olympic trials in April. Additionally, some participants in the Championship have already qualified including Iowa’s Sam Stoll, Michigan’s Adam Coon, NC State’s Nick Gwiazdowski, and Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder and Nathan Tomasello. Snyder is currently ranked No. 1 in the world in his weight class.
Gwiazdowski and Snyder will compete in the same weight class and are seeded No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. If both successfully reach the finals, the two will square off Saturday night in showdown of top athletes in the sport. Gwiazdowski was last year’s national champion and hasn’t lost a college match in over two seasons, while Snyder finished his freshmen year as a runner-up before going on to become the youngest World Champion in in USA history last summer.
Television and Digital Coverage
ESPN will televise the semifinals (March 18) and finals (March 19) in prime time and ESPNU will televise the first and second rounds (March 17), quarterfinals (March 18) and medal round (March 19).
ESPN3 will carry individual mat feeds throughout the entire tournament allowing fans to choose which wrestlers and/or schools to follow at any time. Eight mats will be used for the first, second and quarterfinals, before the competition is reduced to six mats for the semifinals, three mats for the medal round and one mat for the finals.
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. Also for the third consecutive year, Off the Mat – a special presentation of the Championships finals – will be seen on ESPN3. More information below.
- Jim Gibbons: Gibbons is a former NCAA Wrestling Coach of the Year, three-time All-American, two-time Big Eight winner at Iowa State and later won an NCAA National Championship as the Cyclones head coach. He was inducted in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Tim Johnson: The “voice of college wrestling” returns once again to ESPN’s coverage, having been a part of it for more than a decade. Named the 2007 broadcaster of the year by the National Wrestling Media Association. His broadcasting and leadership roles in the sport of wrestling span more than 30 years, including being the director of wrestling for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as the recipient of the prestigious Order of Merit award honoring a lifetime of contributions to the sport of wrestling.
- Anthony Robles: Now in his fifth year as an ESPN analyst, the Arizona State graduate is a three-time All-American and a 2011 NCAA National Champion.
- Billy Baldwin: A former standout wrestler at Binghamton University turned actor, Baldwin will be a guest analyst throughout the three days. He was a leader in keeping the sport in the Olympic Games having joined USA Wrestling’s Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling.
- Adam Amin and Shawn Kenney will call the action and Quint Kessenich will be the reporter.
2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship Schedule
|Date||Time (ET)||Session||Network/WatchESPN Link||Number of ESPN3 Mat Feeds|
|Thu, March 17||Noon – 3:30 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU
|7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.||Second Round||ESPNU http://es.pn/1QMhh7P||Eight Mats
|Fri, March 18||11 a.m. – 2 p.m.||Third Round – Quarterfinals||ESPNU
|8 p.m. – 11 p.m.||Fourth Round – Semifinals||ESPN
|Sat, March 19||11 a.m. – 2 p.m.||Fifth Session – Medal Round||ESPNU
|8:00 p.m. – 11 p.m.||Sixth Session – Championship Finals||ESPN
Please Note: WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN and ESPN app will have links for individual mat feeds throughout the Championship
Every Mat, Every Match Coverage on ESPN3
- ESPN3 will provide fans the option to watch any mat at any time, allowing fans to dictate their own viewing experience. This is the third straight year of every mat, every match coverage which has been received with great fanfare.
- Multi-mat experience is available for computer users, allowing them to watch up to four mats at one time or substitute a video quadrant for real time standings.
Additional ESPN3 Elements:
- Bottom scroll will also run through current team standings and update in real time. Additionally, the use of full screen team panels will be utilized to keep fans up to date
- ESPN3’s scoreboard/navigation page will keep viewers up-to-date on current action and which mats each wrestler is on. When applicable, updates on up to eight mats will be provided on this page
- For viewers watching a particular mat feed, ESPN3’s scroll provides score updates on other ongoing matches, including the matchups coming up next
- Full standing pages will be utilized throughout the experience to keep fans up-to-date in real time
- ESPN3 will have a reporter stationed at each mat providing commentary for each specific feed to further enhance the digital experience.
- Off the Mat – ESPN3 Special During Championship Finals:
- ESPN3’s Off the Mat during the Championship Finals (March 19 at 8 p.m.) will feature three of college wrestling’s most decorated athletes – Jim Gibbons, Dan Gable, and Lee Kemp. The trio will provide viewers a unique perspective of the sport’s ultimate finale, along with Kenney who will host. Baldwin will also join the coverage.
- While also bringing viewers live action, the analysts — unrestricted by television parameters — will discuss each match from a tactical and mental standpoint, describing the wrestlers’ thought process before, during, and after a finals match. Off the Mat will go behind the scenes, show medal ceremonies and feature an array of guests throughout the night, including newly crowned NCAA National Champions and their coaches.
- Dan Gable: Won an Olympic gold medal at the 1972 games in Munich before leading Iowa to 16 NCAA National Championships as head coach.
- Lee Kemp: Won three NCAA National Championships as a wrestler at Wisconsin and three gold medals in the World Championships. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990.
Additional Coverage Highlights
- ESPN will utilize still photography throughout the telecasts, capturing the event in a unique way. A look back at a full gallery from last year’s
- Fans can follow the action on Twitter through @NCAAWrestling and join the conversation by tagging their tweets #WrestleNYC
2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Finals Viewership
The 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Finals on Saturday, March 21, 2015 averaged 694,000 viewers on ESPN with an additional 1.6 million minutes consumed on WatchESPN, a 10% increase in television viewers (630,000) and 148% increase in WatchESPN consumption (644,000) over the 2014 Championship Finals — also shown on ESPN in prime time. Additionally, WatchESPN more than doubled its total unique viewers during the 2015 Championship Finals when compared to 2014.
Throughout the entire tournament, “every mat, every match” coverage on ESPN3 combined with live access to ESPN and ESPNU on WatchESPN resulted in more than 21.3 million minutes viewed throughout the three days, a 67% increase over last year’s same coverage (12.7 million minutes consumed).