The 2024 NWSL season starts on Friday, March 15, to welcome a landmark broadcast deal for the league, and soccer, in the United States. The deal spreads the league across four providers, and it brings a massive revenue increase for the top women’s division in the United States. NWSL’s new four-year deal pockets the league $10 million per season. The previous deal with CBS and Paramount+ only provided the league with $1.5 million per season.

The massive revenue increase speaks to the growing popularity of women’s soccer. That not only applies to the United States, even if the NWSL deal is strictly for American audiences. Women’s soccer has a blooming popularity and demand among viewers. The deal with various broadcasters and streaming partners only validates the league’s success as it enters season No. 12.

Among the immediate concerns for NWSL fans is the widespread nature of the league. In matchday one on the NWSL TV schedule, for example, games are available on four platforms. The opening match is airing on Amazon Prime Video. Then, on Saturday, ABC and ESPN+ are airing the game between the Kansas City Current and the Portland Thorns. Additionally, Saturday has the debut of NWSL+, the free streaming service that is airing more than 70 live matches and replays of NWSL games. Rounding out the weekend’s action are two games on ION from the Scripps family of channels.

Each of these platforms wanting a piece of the NWSL broadcast deal is a positive sign for the league. Paramount+ and CBS did well with the league. For example, the 2023 NWSL Championship pulled in over 800,000 viewers on the linear CBS channel. CBS will have more opportunities for games, including the 2024 NWSL Championship. Now, it shares games with other platforms.

NWSL broadcast deal has inherent risks

This upcoming broadcast deal, and the viewership records set last season, benefited from the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Despite a historically poor performance from the USWNT in that competition, the tournament always drives support for women’s soccer in the United States. That helps explain both the length of the new deal and the uptick in rights fees. In the fourth year of this agreement, NWSL will look to make a new broadcast deal.

Yet, signing this deal could threaten both the popularity of the league and general growth. Previously, fans knew they had to look at one spot for the majority of NWSL games. Paramount+ had most games and the simulcasts of those on CBS. Any other games would be on the CBS Sports Network. That potential difference is still there, but there are far more variables.

Before games have even kicked off, fans are expressing concerns about not knowing where games are. Additionally, the cost of having all these services quickly stacks up. To watch every game of the NWSL season, fans need to pay for Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, Paramount+ and some form of a TV subscription to access the Ion Network.

Once the season gets rolling, the league and its fans may develop more of a rhythm as to where to find games. If that can be the case, the new NWSL broadcast deal can be pivotal to further develop women’s soccer in the United States and around the globe.