NWSL earned multiple business victories this year
The GIST: A new NWSL champion will be crowned tomorrow, but the league is celebrating some important wins today. This week, commissioner Jessica Berman revealed in an interview that the NWSL earned multiple business victories during a year of record-high engagement with women’s sports.
The numbers: Berman said ticket revenue increased 125% from 2021, fueled by the arrival of popular expansion clubs San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC. Regular season viewership on Paramount+ grew 29% YoY, while sponsorship revenue jumped nearly 90%.
- Sponsorship inventory still remains available for clubs across the league, so attendance growth is particularly important. For example, championship contenders Kansas City Current attributes 35% of its revenue to ticket sales.
The next phase: And now, the expansion race is ready to kick into high gear. The deadline for interested parties to submit entries is a week from today, and Berman expects five to 10 “meaningful bids.” Two new teams are expected to begin play in 2024, with the winners announced early next year.
- The list of possible expansion markets is lengthy. Utah is the favorite to land one of the berths, while nine other cities are reportedly in the mix. A record expansion fee is expected — it could rise as high as $50 million. Let the games begin.
Zooming out: This season served as a turning point for the NWSL, especially in the wake of the Yates report on league-wide abuse. Berman said no sponsors or expansion candidates walked away after its release, demonstrating their desire to score business wins and contribute to meaningful growth by building a new culture of player support.
- The league’s ability to rid itself of bad actors and structures will be mandatory for lasting success. All eyes are on the incoming findings of the NWSL and Players Association’s joint investigation, which will hopefully precede corrective action.