Dogs are coming to ESPN in a big way.
With a new, multiyear agreement between ESPN and the American Kennel Club (AKC), ESPN will televise and stream a series of AKC-sanctioned dog competitions, including the prestigious AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin, over the next three years. The agreement includes digital rights for selected events to stream live on the ESPN App.
The new deal, which makes ESPN the AKC’s exclusive television partner in the United States, begins immediately with the AKC Fastest Dog USA event streaming live on the ESPN App on Friday, Dec. 11, from 2-4 p.m. ET and then televised on a delayed basis in a two-hour program on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13.
The AKC National Championship, the largest dog event in America, being held Dec. 12-13 in Orlando, also will stream live on the ESPN App at 4:30 p.m. each day and will air on ABC in a three-hour program on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. The event features thousands of the world’s top canine competitors from across the country and around the globe as they vie for Best in Show honors, the title of National Champion and the prize of $50,000.
“People just love their dogs and our viewers responded very well to our previous AKC telecasts,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Original Content. “We’re very pleased to be able to bring them more in the years to come, showcasing the beauty and athleticism of dogs and the great teamwork these events require, and making ESPN the home of dog action sports. I know my black labs Luna and Stella will be joining me to watch.”
ESPN and the AKC previously collaborated on “ESPN Dog Day” in August of 2019 and “ESPN Puppy Day” this past April. Both days consisted of dog-related programming, including some AKC competitions.
“We are thrilled to expand on our amazing relationship with the leader in sports television,” said Dennis B. Sprung, President and CEO of the AKC. “AKC Sports demonstrate the very best in canine athleticism and the strength of the human-canine bond. It is exciting to introduce new audiences to these action-packed events and showcase the stellar dogs that compete and we cannot think of a better place to do so than ESPN.”
In addition to the AKC National Championship and Fastest Dog USA, the agreement also calls for ESPN to televise:
- AKC Agility Championships (March)
- AKC Agility Premier Cup (May)
- North American Diving Dogs Premier Cup (September)
- AKC Flyball Championship (October)
Each program will have two re-airs on ESPN television channels as well as re-airs on Nat Geo WILD. The agreement also grants ESPN access to the AKC’s extensive library of dog programming for potential future programming.
The AKC is the largest purebred dog registry in the world and the leading governing body of dog sports in the United States. More than 22,000 competitions for AKC-registered purebred and mixed breed dogs are held under AKC rules and regulations each year including conformation, agility, obedience, rally, tracking, herding, lure coursing, coonhound events, hunt tests, field and earthdog tests.
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(Photo courtesy of AKC)