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ESPN to air women's first-, second-round games nationally

ESPN announced Tuesday that it would air all women's basketball NCAA tournament first- and second-round games in 2020 on its television networks, rather than show the games on a regional basis.

That eliminates the "whiparound" coverage that ESPN previously used, where various areas of the country were shown different primary games, with periodic check-ins on the other games. Now viewers anywhere can watch all games on ESPN networks.

Also, both of the women's basketball national semifinals and the final will be shown on the main ESPN network.

The decisions were made as "a direct result of the ever-growing popularity of women's college basketball," said Carol Stiff, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions.

"Last year, we saw an 8 percent ratings increase for the Women's Final Four," Stiff said. "These changes will only further celebrate a great sport with a tremendous fan base."