National Women’s Soccer League Signs Record $240M Media Rights Deal
Women’s soccer is having its moment. Following unprecedented viewership for the Women’s World Cup this summer, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has signed a set of domestic media rights agreements that will pay the league $240 million.
At four years and $60 million annually, that bests the previous television contract of $1.5 million per year by 4,000%. It is the largest media rights deal in women’s sports history, beating the more than $40 million the WNBA currently gets annually. However, that deal expires in 2025, and the league is expected to seek more than $100 million when negotiations for a new deal begin.
Making the agreement even more attractive for the NWSL is the cross platform exposure that the league will be given.
CBS will broadcast a minimum of 21 games each year, including the NWSL Championship for the next four years. CBS will broadcast the games on network television and stream them live on Paramount+.
ESPN will broadcast 20 games per season, including three playoff games each year, and will spread its coverage among ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and its streaming service, ESPN+.
Amazon will carry 27 games each season, including a playoff game and the season opening match. Each Friday night there will be an NWSL game on Prime Video, followed by a Saturday night doubleheader on the ION network.
“We have always focused on balancing revenue, reach, and relevance, and these deals with these partners represent an unprecedented investment in women’s sports,” said Julie Haddon, the NWSL’s chief commercial officer and marketing officer. “We have a real opportunity to bring our game closer to our fans and brand sponsor partners in new and innovative ways.”
The NWSL is also in the process of creating a domestic streaming platform that will broadcast all of the other league games that won’t be nationally broadcast by the four networks.
These new broadcast deals go into effect for next season, the 12th season for the NWSL, and one that will feature two new expansion teams, Bay FC (based in San Jose) and Utah Royals FC (playing its games in Sandy, Utah).
The 2023 NWSL Championship Game is Saturday, November 11, and there are a number of great online sportsbooks in which you can place a wager.
Women’s Soccer Pay Increases Happening Worldwide
It is not just the women of the NWSL that are benefiting financially from the booming popularity of women’s soccer. In the UK, the prize purse for the Women’s FA Cup has been raised to $7.34 million, with $527,000 going to the winning team.
Last year, the winning club was paid $490,000, and the overall prize purse was just $3.98 million. The FA says the ultimate goal is to make the prize purse equal to the men, who will make more than $25 million this year.
At the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a record $110 million was awarded in prize money, and now one of the host countries is giving its players a significant raise. Football Australia has announced that members of its women’s national team will get a bump in pay of close to $60,000 (USD).
Under the previous deal, team members made $70,000 per year. Now they can earn up to $128,000 in base pay, which doesn’t include any prize money that they also might win in international tournaments.
The 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup is the first that has media rights separate from the men’s tournament, and the bidding process is already underway. In May, 2024, FIFA will announce the 2027 host.