The NWSL finalized media rights deals with ESPN, CBS, Amazon, and Scripps
The details: Once finalized, the agreements will be in place for the next four years, allowing the league to renegotiate after the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) in 2027. Viewership increases during the regular season and 2023 WWC, along with the NWSL’s recent valuation numbers, allowed the league to improve its previous deal with CBS, while also adding new ones to the mix.
- While specifics are unknown, Sportico indicated that the agreements are worth a “monster number,” well above the previous three-year, $4.5M CBS deal. It seems NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman was spot on when she said people will value the league the way it values itself.
The approach: By spreading its media rights across four networks, the NWSL will draw in viewership from large television networks and surging sports streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, which is seeing success from WNBA and NFL broadcasts.
- This strategy has been utilized by the NFL and NBA for decades, but is new for women’s sports leagues. The NFL’s 11-year deals are worth about $110B and spread across five networks, which encourages competing networks to up their price for the rights.
The challenges: While diversifying media rights ownership encourages a competitive market, multiple channels can create confusion. And with a sport like soccer, which is still developing its North American fandom, it’s possible that finding the league in one place is better suited for casual viewers, as even avid fans can be discouraged by inaccessibility.