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Women’s football X League to give viewers plenty of choices for camera, audio

By Joe Lemire, SportTechie

The X League, a women’s professional football league backed by Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and scheduled to kick off next June, is hoping to create a watershed moment for viewer autonomy. Fans will have the option to toggle between some two dozen camera angles — or even simulcast several at once — to watch the game however they want. That could mean following the action from a non-traditional vantage point, such as an end zone view, or by isolating a key player at all times.  

Viewers will also have the choice of just as many audio channels, offering unprecedented access to on-field and in-venue communication. Just as the Alliance of American Football introduced the ability to listen to instant replay deliberations, X League fans will also be able to select a channel to eavesdrop on the offensive coordinator’s instructions to a quarterback or perhaps what the chatter is like in the owner’s box.

The X League is planning to launch with 10 U.S. teams and has plans for expansion to the U.K. in 2025 and Germany in 2026, all of which will showcase its “choose-your-own adventure experience for the end user,” said Wes Powell, the CFO of Launch Global, a digital entertainment production company that is supporting the X League’s efforts. Panasonic is the expected camera provider, and Kiswe, a live interactive video provider, is in line to be a key broadcast partner.

“I feel like we’re at a Henry Ford moment,” Powell said, “like the old quote of, ‘If you had asked somebody before the Model T came out, what do they want, they’d say a faster horse.’ They just haven’t experienced multi-camera choice before.”

The managing partner of the X League is Mitchell Mortaza, who is best known for his work starting the Legends Football League (which produced the Lingerie Football League), although he emphasizes that this is a separate venture. Ditka is the X League chairman, and its U.K. chief is Shaun Harvey, who formerly was CEO of the English Football League and club Leeds United.

“Everybody sees what’s happening in women’s sport — there’s an incredible momentum forming behind it — and then also see what the NFL has done recently in the past five years in really highlighting the role of women in football,” said Mortaza. “And lastly, there [is] a void of a major commercial sports league for women’s football. And that’s the void we’re going to be stepping into. Obviously, you have millions of girls around the country that want to play the game that never had that opportunity before. This is that aspirational league for them.”

The X League has raised over $30 million in Series A funding and has partnered with global streaming media partners such as Eurosport, Sony Pictures Television, StarTimes and the Endemol Shine Group; the latter partner, whose TV credits include “Big Brother” and “MasterChef,” will produce a docuseries on the X League. Its U.S. media partner and major corporate sponsors will be announced in January.

At launch, the X League will be a single entity with teams in Atlanta, Arizona, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New England, New York and Seattle. A national tryout for players will take place at a combine in January, with more than 1,800 women already registered, Mortaza said. The league will emphasize fantasy and betting options to fans, who also will have the opportunity to call some plays used in the game.

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