The new four-year, four-partner TV deal for the NWSL is a game-changer for the league in more ways than one. The specifics have now been revealed for the new arrangement, set to kick off in the 2024 season.
Starting next year, 118 matches throughout the season will be broadcast between four partners – CBS Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, and Scripps Sports.
Per the league’s press release, the overall media rights package totals a “40x multiple from NWSL’s previous deal.” Reports have the total value at $60 million per year. That’s a very substantial increase and nothing to balk at.
But it comes at a cost. Whereas in recent seasons the majority of games could be found on Paramount+, now women’s soccer fans will be channel hopping.
NWSL TV deal to see the league air on ten different platforms
This fall, USWNT and Angel City FC forward Christen Press admitted she had trouble finding her own club’s matches on TV while she was injured. Well buckle up Christen, it’s about to get a lot more confusing.
Here’s the breakdown:
Amazon Prime Video:
27 total games:
25 Friday night games
1 Season kickoff match
1 playoff quarterfinal
21 total games (minimum):
CBS and Paramount+:
10 regular season games
1 playoff quarterfinal
1 playoff semifinal
NWSL Championship Final
CBS Sports Network (these games are not on Paramount+):
8 regular season games
ESPN (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN Deportes – all simulcast on ESPN+):
20 total games:
17 regular season games
2 playoff quarterfinals
1 playoff semifinal
Scripps Sports (ION):
50 total games:
25 Saturday night doubleheaders
Weekly Saturday studio show
2024 NWSL Draft
Of course, there are a lot more than 118 games played in an NWSL season. What about the rest? Per the league, “The remainder of the NWSL regular-season schedule will be part of a domestic direct-to-consumer package.” Whether this additional service will come with any cost to fans has not been revealed.
So for those keeping score at home, it’s likely that in order to watch every NWSL game for their favorite team, fans will need:
- A Prime Video account
- A Cable, satellite, or streaming plan that includes ESPN/ESPN2/Deportes (or ESPN+) and CBS Sports Network
- Access to local ABC, CBS, and ION via antenna or TV plan
- Access to NWSL’s direct platform for remaining games
That’s a lot to juggle. Of course, you can always check our NWSL TV schedule page to keep track of everything.
Pros and cons of the new deal
First and foremost, bringing in more revenue to the clubs is paramount (no pun intended). In a country that within the past two decades has seen two women’s pro leagues (and one men’s league) flame out of existence, you can never have too much money in the coffers.
In addition, getting more games onto mainstream channels is a huge win. ION may seem like an obscure network. But a weekly doubleheader on a channel fans can get for free with an antenna, or already see on their cable TV guide, will provide for a consistent delivery of games. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.
Games that find their way to ABC, ESPN, and the main CBS network are also a major boost in terms of helping find the eyes of casual fans. Hardly anyone was stumbling on matches shown on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network by accident.
The main drawbacks here are the added cost for fans to watch all the games and the minor inconvenience of having to keep track of it all. Needing only a $5.99/month Paramount+ subscription, and a cable TV plan a lot of fans already had, was a pretty sweet setup.
But those days are in the past now.
Gotham FC takes on OL Reign for the league title this Saturday in San Diego at 8 PM ET on CBS and Paramount+. After that, it’s a brave new world for the NWSL on American screens.
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