FA Women’s Super League, the top-tier professional women’s soccer league in England, will be broadcast on U.S. television for the first time on Sept. 6 as part of a deal between NBC Sports and a new women’s soccer-focused company aiming to elevate the sport globally.
Atalanta Media, which is launching as a company alongside the rights deal, was founded by former Sky executive Hannah Brown and Esmeralda Negron, a former collegiate and professional women’s soccer player who has spent the last several years in sports marketing around soccer, specifically with Relevent Sports and its ICC Women’s tournament.
The company’s goal is to help grow the sport of women’s soccer globally, focusing mainly on media rights distribution deals such as this one as well as building a consumer platform that will better connect fans with content from women’s soccer leagues and players.
Negron said the impetus to found Atalanta Media came out of her own desire to watch more top-tier women’s soccer in the U.S. While the NWSL has been broadcast domestically throughout its eight-year existence, including a new deal with CBS, other leagues globally have had little visibility.
That has been increasingly noticeable in recent years as the popularity of the sport has grown massively alongside major European soccer clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon, Manchester City and Manchester United all making or started to make larger investments into their women’s teams.
“Our idea was ‘what if we start to invest in these rights, purchase them and then partner with premium broadcast to deliver these matches,” Negron said. “Previously it had been stuck; the rights holders want money but for the broadcasters it’s not a proven concept so it makes it hard to invest. That leads to it never getting the distribution it needs to help generate fandom and provide the regular access to women’s club football to grow it.”
Atalanta Media acquired the broadcast rights for the Women’s Super League in the U.S., Germany and Italy. In the latter two countries, it has struck a deal with DAZN to stream matches.
In the U.S., NBC Sports will present 50 matches across its platforms, including more than a dozen on NBCSN. Other matches will be broadcast on the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com
The deal comes at an exciting time for the Women’s Super League. Alongside that investment from English clubs has been an influx of global talent. That includes U.S. Women’s national team players Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, who both joined Manchester City following the NWSL Challenge Cup. Several other USWNT players are also rumored to join the league.
The NWSL didn’t just successfully execute a bubble tournament that avoided a COVID-19 outbreak — they completed a record-breaking season, landing partners and smashing ratings with new broadcast deals.
Negron said that Atalanta Media will look to acquire additional rights for women’s soccer leagues, and is already in negotiations with other properties.
She declined to comment further as the deals have not been announced as well as the financial terms around the NBC Sports deal, which is for at least one season.
Those investments are being aided by a seed investment from Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners, which has invested in other media and entertainment properties such as OTT sports streaming platform Fanatiz. Fanatiz will also provide WSL content as a result of the deal.
Atalanta Media will also look to create a larger community platform for young fans and players that will not only provide them access to match content and highlights but digital skills training as well.
The company will look to monetize that product to bring in additional revenue through sponsorships and other efforts, as well as partner with pro players so that they can leverage that platform to generate additional revenue as well.
“I think you’d be surprised at how few young girls in the U.S. know that there are these pro women’s teams for the biggest brands and clubs in the world, just because they are not broadcast and covered,” Negron said. “We want to give them the ability to see it and believe it.”