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Sunday, June 16, 2024

NWSL Championship Showcases League’s Rapid Growth

  • The NWSL championship will air in primetime on the main CBS broadcast network on Saturday.
  • The league set multiple attendance records this year.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s NWSL championship match between the Kansas City Current and Portland Thorns, which takes place in Washington, D.C., arrives at a time of peak growth and investment in the league.

For the first time ever, the title game at Audi Field will air at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Originally scheduled for noon, the match was pushed into primetime thanks to the support of Ally Financial, one of the NWSL’s corporate sponsors.

The NWSL title game will put a cap on a wildly successful season.

  • In May, the NWSL reported that its opening weekend was the most attended in league history, and the San Diego Wave set the record for the best-attended regular-season NWSL game in September.
  • The league’s quarterfinal games earlier this month broke attendance records twice in one day.
  • The NWSL’s regular season drew more than 1 million fans — also a record.

Angel City FC lead investor Alexis Ohanian told Reuters this month the league has “ammo” for negotiations when its $4.5 million TV deal expires.

High-Speed Current

The young league’s resilience has been formidable — for example, the Thorns are thriving despite being at the center of an NWSL misconduct investigation — but the rocketing return on investment is especially evident in the Current’s resurgence.

They’re competing for a title after finishing their inaugural season in 2021 with a 3-7-14 record. Since then, the team’s owners finalized plans for the first purpose-built NWSL stadium ($117 million) and opened an $18 million training facility.

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