NWSL Grows TV Audience 500% in 2020

    • The league carried out two tournaments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • A new broadcast deal with CBS sparked broad growth.

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The National Women’s Soccer League, the highest tier of professional women’s soccer in the United States, saw its television viewership grow 500% year-over-year in the 2020, SportsPro reported

The league had a new domestic broadcast deal with CBS that saw all 23 games of the Challenge Cup stream on CBS All Access. For the fall series, one “game of the week” aired live on CBS Television Network or CBS Sports Network throughout the seven-week tournament and all games streamed on CBS All Access. 

Broadcasts of the fall series specifically averaged 383,000 viewers, but overall CBS coverage peaked at 653,000 for the league’s Challenge Cup final in July — which aired on CBS Television Network — according to Sports Pro Media. The NWSL also streams games globally on Twitch. 

Prior to the Challenge Cup, the league’s average viewership record for a broadcast was 190,000, from a match in 2014. 

The league previously aired on ESPN, which picked up the final 14 games of the 2019 campaign in July of that year, months into the season.

In February 2019, Lifetime and A&E Networks ended a three-year sponsorship and broadcasting agreement with the NWSL a year early.

The NWSL also saw success on social media and online this year, with “mentions on social platforms” growing 152% year-over-year and “traditional news media coverage” up 55%. 

Ahead of the 2020 season, the league lined up sponsorship deals with Procter & Gamble, Secret Deodorant — which recently made a $1 million commitment to women’s hockey. Budweiser, Google and Verizon also struck deals.