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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The NWSL Is Ready to Cash in on New Media Exposure

  • ESPN, CBS, Amazon, and Scripps Sports will air matches this season.
  • More money, and media exposure, is on the way for the women’s soccer league.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The NWSL Challenge Cup on Friday night will see the defending champions, Gotham FC, host the San Diego Wave on Prime Video before the regular season begins Saturday. Amazon is one of three new media partners, including ESPN and Scripps Sports, that will pay the women’s soccer league a combined $240 million over the next four years, alongside incumbent broadcaster CBS Sports.

The groundbreaking deals are set to give the NWSL unprecedented exposure for professional women’s team sports: 72 regular-season matches will be on free over-the-air networks, and 26 will be on mass-distributed cable channels. The remainder will be streamed on Amazon and NWSL+, the league’s free, new digital platform. Here’s what it will look like:

  • ABC: Season opener / ESPN: 7 matches / ESPN2: 9 matches
  • CBS: 11 matches / CBS Sports Network: 10 matches
  • Scripps-owned Ion: 50 matches
  • Prime Video: 26 matches
  • NWSL+: 69 matches

More Than Money

Besides the huge increase in TV revenue, worth $60 million annually and beating out prior deals by a multiple of 40, the NWSL will now get four broadcasters, instead of one, promoting the league each week. Scripps is even launching weekly studio shows—another first for the NWSL—before and after matches, as well as in between Ion’s Saturday doubleheaders. And depending on how successful games on NWSL+ are, the league could look to start charging for that service or sell some of that inventory to new partners down the road.

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