National Women’s Soccer League Announces a Record-Setting Broadcast Contract and New Partners Beginning in 2024
November 11 marked the end of another successful season for the 11-year-old National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The NWSL championship match between the OL Reign (Seattle) and the NY/NJ Gotham FC featured a marquee match-up with two of the NWSL’s biggest names, Gotham FC defender Ali Krieger and Reign attacker Megan Rapinoe. Both announced their retirement at the end of this season, adding drama to an already highly anticipated match. Unfortunately, Rapinoe suffered a non-contact leg injury in the third minute of the game, forcing her to watch the Reign fall to Gotham FC two to one from the sidelines. Gotham FC won their first NWSL Championship in the first appearance in the finals. The match was also a win for CBS, garnering the second largest audience ever for an NWSL game with an average audience of 817,000 viewers for the primetime telecast.
As big a win as it was for the OL Reign, the NWSL scored an even bigger win earlier that week, when the league announced a record-setting new broadcast contract estimated to be worth $240 million over four years. At $60 million per year, the NWSL contract equals the WNBA as the largest rights contract for a women’s sports league, whose contract also generates $60 million a year. In announcing the new contract, NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said, “These partnerships fundamentally change the game for our league and the players who take the pitch each week. We have taken great care to ensure our games are discoverable by increasing our reach in order to expose new audiences to everything that makes our league special, without compromising the economic value of our product. This is the beginning of our future.”
And what a future that appears to be. Beyond the financial implications of the contract, the other big win for the NWSL is the increased reach that Berman mentioned. The current NWSL contract is exclusive to Paramount properties: CBS (Broadcast), CBS Sports Network (Cable), and Paramount + (Streaming). The new contract expands that coverage to include ESPN/ ABC, Scripps-owned ION, and Amazon Prime Video. All told, the NWSL will have national coverage of 118 matches across all the platforms. Any games outside of the national window will be available to fans via a new direct-to-consumer platform to be owned and operated by the NWSL. The new contract will benefit soccer fans and the NWSL through commitments by the partners to up-level production quality, marketing and promoting the NWSL across their platforms, and to cross-marketing each other’s scheduled broadcasts.
Here are the details of each of the NWSL’s new partner agreements:
Minimum of 21 Games total
Regular season: CBS and Paramount+: Minimum of 10 games per season, CBS Sports Network: Minimum of eight games per season
Playoffs: CBS and Paramount+: one quarterfinal per season, CBS and Paramount+: one semifinal per season, CBS and Paramount+: NWSL Championship
20 games total
Regular season: 17 regular season games per season
Playoffs: two quarterfinal games per season, one semifinal per season
Amazon Prime Video
27 games total
Regular season: 25 Friday night games per season, one season opening kickoff match
Playoffs: one quarterfinal per season
50 games total
Regular season: 25 exclusive Saturday night double-headers on ION (games with 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET starts)
Weekly studio show leading off each doubleheader Saturday at 7 p.m. ET
2024 NWSL Draft (January)
Hillary Mandel of IMG who negotiated the new contracts said, “(these partnerships) will help send the women’s game to new heights of viewership and fandom…they are going to transform the ways in which fans can discover and engage with the games, assuring deserved exposure for these world class athletes on the broadest stage.”
On behalf of women’s soccer fans everywhere, we couldn’t agree more. If you’re interested in aligning your brand with one of the hottest properties in sports today, reach out to Rain the Growth Agency at email@example.com to learn more.