Agreement reportedly worth just under £200m over four years
The NWSL has agreed a four-year US broadcast rights deal with Prime Video, CBS Sports, ESPN, and Scripp Sports, that is reportedly the largest ever agreed by a women’s sport league.
Reports claim that the four agreements are worth $60 million (£49.12m) a season and $240 million (£196.57m) over the entire term. Endeavor’s IMG and WME Sports advised the NWSL and negotiated on its behalf with the broadcasters.
Starting from 2024, 118 matches will be shown by the broadcasters, with the rest available through a D2C platform. Prime Video will air 27 games, 25 of which will be on Friday nights as well as a season opener and a quarter final; Scripps will show 50 games on its ION network made up of 25 double headers on Saturday evenings, as well as the NWSL Draft; CBS will show a minimum of 21 games on its linear channels and Paramount+, including the Championship final; and ESPN will broadcast 20 matches on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+.
NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said: “These partnerships fundamentally change the game for our league and the players who take the pitch each week. On behalf of the NWSL, our owners and players, I want to commend CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps for investing in our league and affirmatively declaring to the marketplace that this league is exciting, valuable, and important.
“We have taken great care to ensure our games are discoverable by increasing our reach in order to expose new audiences to everything that makes our league special, without compromising the economic value of our product. This is the beginning of our future.”
Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, commented: “We’re thrilled to extend our relationship with the NWSL, continuing as the home of the NWSL Championship and offering an expanded slate of matches on CBS as we build on the success of the last four years.
“Extending this partnership further demonstrates our commitment to elevating women’s sports as we continue to work hand-in-hand with the NWSL to highlight the world’s best women’s soccer players. As we prepare to present the 2023 NWSL Championship this weekend, we are excited to continue to showcase this league across our platforms for years to come and remain the ultimate destination for soccer fans.”
Rosalyn Durant, EVP of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, added: “The NWSL is among the world’s best women’s professional soccer leagues, and we are excited to showcase the league, the clubs, and the incredible athletes to sports fans. This agreement further strengthens our leadership position as the home for women’s sports.”
Marie Donoghue, VP of U.S. sports content & partnerships at Amazon, said: “The evolution of women’s sports - and specifically the NWSL - demonstrates that there is a growing audience for remarkable athletes and world-class competition, regardless of gender. With the unique power and distribution of Prime Video, and an exclusive window on Friday nights throughout the season, we look forward to expanding that audience as the newest home of the NWSL.”
Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, said: “Scripps Sports is pleased to create a franchise night on ION for the NWSL that will reach every American household, across every free television platform and further help expand the league’s fan base with appointment viewing consistency. We’re proud once again to be a part of a historic distribution agreement that will elevate women’s professional sports, benefitting the league, the teams, their athletes and fans.”
Hillary Mandel, EVP, head of Americas at IMG, said: “On behalf of the NWSL, we have secured four game-changing, marquee partnerships that will help send the women’s game to new heights of viewership and fandom, growing domestic revenues for the league at a multiple of over 40x. The NWSL’s new line-up of media partners are stepping up with significant rights fees, production investment, top tier platforms and impactful promotion. In lockstep with the NWSL, they are going to transform the ways in which fans can discover and engage with the games, assuring deserved exposure for these world class athletes on the broadest stage.”