The National Women’s Soccer League on Thursday announced a new media rights deal that will feature the league’s matches on ESPN, CBS Sports, Amazon Prime Video and Scripps Sports.
“These partners believe in our future. They believe in our players, they believe in what we can be,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said. “We’re resetting the standards by which women’s sports can be valued.”
The league’s current deal with CBS Sports ends at the end of this season. The new media rights package runs through 2027 and is worth $60 million annually.
Saturday night’s NWSL championship between Gotham FC and OL Reign will air on CBS. The network will continue to broadcast the championship game as part of the new agreement.
“We’re going to make sure, along with these other partners, that this league keeps getting more and more exposure, more and more promotion, more and more branding and that we grow this sport and this league,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said during a news conference announcing the deal in San Diego.
Starting next season, a Friday night game on Prime Video will kick off each weekend. Each Saturday night will include a double-header on Scripps’ over-the-air ION network.
A package of at least 21 regular-season games will stream live on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network or CBS.
Another package of 20 games with air across ESPN’s platforms, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
The remaining regular season games will be part of a domestic direct-to-consumer package produced and distributed by the NWSL, the league said. That could include deals for stations in the league’s local markets to air games.
In the playoffs, Prime Video and a CBS platform will each broadcast a quarterfinal each, while ESPN/ABC airs the other two. ESPN/ABC and a CBS platform will each have a semifinal game.
Berman said the NWSL didn’t want to be behind a league-specific paywall to allow fans more ways to discover and watch the games.
“I think we’re taking advantage in a very positive way of all the different ways to reach consumers,” she said.
The NWSL has been working with Endeavor, a global sports and entertainment marketing firm, which has partnerships with the NHL and the NFL. Endeavor is also the league’s data and international streaming provider.
The NWSL is in its 11th season. Next year the league will expand to 14 teams with the addition of the Utah Royals and Bay FC.
Earlier this year, Berman reported that viewership on CBS and its streaming affiliate Paramount+ was up 21 percent year-over-year to last season.
Megan Rapinoe’s farewell match for OL Reign in Seattle averaged 683,000 viewers on CBS last month, becoming the most watched regular-season NWSL game ever. The match also drew a record 34,134 fans to Lumen Field.
Rapinoe will retire from soccer following Saturday’s championship, as will Gotham defender Ali Krieger. Both have won a pair of Women’s World Cups with the U.S. national team, but never an NWSL title.
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