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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

NWSL’s Next Media Deal Has Negotiation ‘Ammo’

  • The league's current media deal with CBS expires at the end of 2023.
  • Some NWSL games have outperformed MLS games.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The NWSL is on the right path to command an increase in its next media rights deal, according to one team owner.

Angel City FC lead investor Alexis Ohanian told Reuters that the league has “ammo” for negotiations when its reported $4.5 million, three-year TV rights deal expires at the end of 2023.

“When we were given CBS as the stage, we either competed with — matched or even outperformed — the MLS,” the co-founder of Reddit said. “Facts over feelings. When we’re put on that stage, the fans show up.”

  • MLS, which averaged 343,000 viewers for its regular season, signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion media rights deal with Apple TV this year. 
  • In comparison, CBS drew audiences ranging from 349,000 to 461,000 for NWSL regular-season games and the Challenge Cup. 
  • Most NWSL games were streamed on Paramount+ and Amazon-owned Twitch in 2022, which has a roughly $1 million deal with the league. Streaming figures are not public.

“We’re a fraction of the size in terms of teams and age,” Ohanian said, referencing MLS, “but we’re already putting up some great numbers.”

Women’s Worldwide Negotiations

The NWSL isn’t the only organization seeking fair value for media rights in women’s soccer.

FIFA’s chief business officer Romy Gai said FIFA recently rejected several broadcast bids for the 2023 Women’s World Cup for being too low, adding that the offers didn’t reflect the popularity of women’s soccer.

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