Saturday’s NWSL final wasn’t just something for winners Gotham FC to celebrate. CBS Sports had a fine night as well, with an average of 817,000 viewers watching the NWSL Championship on the CBS network and Paramount+.
This makes the game only the second NWSL match to surpass 800,000 viewers – last season’s title game which pulled in 915,000 viewers on the same duo of platforms is the only other.
Speaking strictly of streaming, the OL Reign vs Gotham tilt was the most-streamed NWSL match ever.
It certainly helped that the clash was the swan song for two US Women and NWSL legends – Megan Rapinoe and Ali Kreiger. Rapinoe, unfortunately, suffered a non-contact injury just minutes into the game.
New deal is on the horizon
This game was the last under the previous NWSL media deal, which had exclusively been with CBS Sports. CBS remains a league partner moving forward as part of a four-year, multi-broadcaster deal, with several games including the final remaining on CBS and Paramount+.
While the 2023 Championship was not quite as big of a ratings hit as the 2022 edition, it’s still a seriously impressive number. It’s a positive trend for the league in general, and for CBS who’ll have the final in the next four years as well.
Something to keep an eye on however was how NWSL and CBS presented the game’s availability. It was not made clear leading up to the match that to watch live on Paramount+ required the upper tier “Paramount+ with Showtime” plan.
Fans who do not have the premium Paramount+ account, nor cable/satellite/antenna, and were expecting to be able to watch the game were understandably upset. Previous games on CBS had been available to all Paramount+ subscribers.
That wasn’t the only thing that had some fans irked. Field conditions at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego were less than appropriate for a league final. While it was not as poor as the previous week’s semifinal hosted by the San Diego Wave at the venue, a few patchy areas remained on the grass field and American football markings and logos could be seen peeking through in places.
Top local markets for NWSL Championship
It’s no surprise that the #1 market for the game was the home base of one of the finalists. Seattle-Tacoma was tops overall but were surely left disappointed with their side not taking the trophy:
5- New Orleans
6- St. Louis
8- Fort Myers
It’s a testament to the difficulty in cracking the metro-New York area market that NYC is not on the list, despite being Gotham’s home turf. Also interesting is that of these top markets, only four have NWSL sides.
None of the others are (at least publically, anyway) even on the radar for expansion. You’d have to think that both the NWSL and the upcoming USL Super League will be considering where WoSo fans are watching these big games when scouting for future club locations.
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