The National Women’s Soccer League saw unprecedented success in 2023 and is poised to carry that momentum into the future — which is why even decently strong viewership numbers for its championship game could be seen as a minor disappointment.
Saturday’s NWSL Championship, which saw NJ/NY Gotham FC defeat OL Reign 2-1 for their first title, averaged 817,000 viewers on CBS — the second-most-watched NWSL match of all time and the second ever to surpass 800,000 average viewers.
The downside? The most-watched NWSL match ever was the 2022 Championship (915,000 average viewers), meaning the title game saw a 10.7% and almost 100,000-viewer decrease year-over-year.
It’s also a bit troubling that the New Jersey and/or New York local television markets did not even crack the top 10 despite their team winning it all, per the Washington Post’s Steven Goff. On the other hand, Seattle-Tacoma — where OL Reign is based — was the No. 1 local market.
Still, there should be a lot of enthusiasm for the NWSL’s future on TV.
CBS Sports reports that the 2023 Championship was its most-streamed NWSL match on Paramount+ and saw double-digit growth compared to last year’s title game (specific figures were not disclosed).
This all came on the heels of the league signing a cumulative four-year, $240 million media rights deal with ESPN, CBS, Amazon, and Scripps Sports — the largest media deal in women’s sports history and an enormous increase from its previous pact that paid $1.5 million annually.