The NWSL signs the largest media deal in women's sports
The GIST: Although the NWSL announced new media rights deals a month ago, the price tag was unknown…until now. After its three-year, $4.5M CBS deal expires, the league will bag $240M from 2024–2027 thanks to the largest media deal in women’s sports, which will increase annual NWSL media rights from $1.5M to $60M. Moolah la.
The deal: CBS will broadcast the NWSL Championship on network television and Paramount+, plus a minimum of 21 games annually. ESPN will air 20 games per season, while Amazon will stream 27, including some in a Friday night format similar to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football.
- However, the biggest winner in the deal may be Scripps Sports, which will feature 50 games per year, including 25 exclusive Saturday night doubleheaders on Ion. The network will also kick things off with exclusive 2024 NWSL Draft coverage in January.
The landscape: The NWSL just wrapped up a banner season of exponential growth, validating its media value in the process. This year saw the highest combined attendance ever (1.37M), a massive 21% viewership boost, game-changing sponsorships, and hefty $53M expansion fees for upcoming Boston and Bay Area franchises. Score.
- The NWSL is also setting a global example with the KC Current’s CPKC Stadium, soccer’s first purpose-built stadium for a women’s team, while the release of the league’s first-ever public valuations in October further reinforced its clubs’ rising stock.
Zooming out: The landmark deal is expected to be a trend in women’s sports, informing not just soccer, but also basketball. The NWSL will be paid $60M to broadcast 118 games next season, or $508K per game. In 2023, the WNBA pulled in about $40M to broadcast 96 games on ESPN and ION ($416K per game), and after the league’s record year, this is exactly the fuel it needs to secure its own bag.