TV viewership for England's Women’s Super League (WSL) 2022-23 season has increased 70%
The GIST: The Women’s Euro halo effect is going strong. Four months after England brought football home, British broadcaster Sky revealed yesterday that TV viewership for the 2022–23 Women’s Super League (WSL) season increased 70% YoY, and that the company is already eyeing renewal when the deal expires in 2024.
The context: In 2021, Sky inked a multiyear deal with the WSL reportedly worth $20.8 million per season that runs through the 2023–24 campaign. The broadcaster shares the rights to England’s top-flight women’s soccer league with the BBC, whose agreement is also up in 2024.
The details: Sky director of football Gary Hughes noted that viewership skyrocketed 171% YoY last season. Airing WSL matches has broadened Sky’s audience according to Hughes, which is key to the company’s goal of attracting women and sports fans under the age of 35.
The strategy: The broadcaster’s approach to the WSL mirrors its treatment of the men’s Premier League. Sky uses the same studio, compiles the same graphics and airs matches on its main channel. As Hughes puts it, “We treated it as a premium right.”
- This reflects an industry-wide trend — WSL teams attached to superclubs like Arsenal and Chelsea are hosting women’s games at the larger capacity stadiums usually reserved for men’s teams. We’re buzzing.
Zooming out: Talk of a renewal halfway through an agreement speaks volumes about the WSL’s success, and could heat up the league’s next media rights negotiation. Hughes’ comments are also a large vote of confidence in the sport amidst a global uptick in popularity. Facts, not feelings.
- Sky’s international counterparts can join the fun, too — the rights to the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup and the NWSL are still up for grabs.