The National Women's Soccer League announced a new U.S. broadcast deal on Thursday that includes four major broadcast deals. The league will bring in an estimated $60 million per year through the deals, compared to the $1.5 million from the current deal with CBS, which expires at the end of this season.
From 2024-2027, matches will air on CBS, ESPN’s channels including ABC and ESPN Deportes, Scripps’ ION over-the-air network (locally Bellevue's KWPX), and Amazon’s Prime Video. Each partner will show at least 20 matches each year.
According to a league press release, 118 matches will be distributed by the following partners:
- The NWSL will begin each regular-season weekend with Friday night matches on Prime Video.
- Each Saturday night that follows will include a double-header on Scripps’-owned ION network, available over-the-air in 123 million homes. ION will air the NWSL Draft live in January.
- A package of regular season matches will air on CBS and stream live on Paramount+, with additional matches airing on CBS Sports Network.
- ESPN will air a package of matches across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes (Spanish). All NWSL matches on ESPN platforms and on ABC will stream live on ESPN+ in English and Spanish. The package also includes English, Spanish and Portuguese language rights in Latin America.
The remainder of the NWSL regular-season schedule will be part of a domestic direct-to-consumer package produced and distributed by the NWSL.
CBS will feature at least 21 games a year, including 10 matches on CBS. ESPN will feature 17 regular-season games each year, with broadcasts spread across ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 in English, and ESPN Deportes in Spanish. All of these matches will stream on ESPN+ in Spanish and English.
ION, which made a name for itself in sports through a successful WNBA deal, will have 25 exclusive doubleheaders on Saturday. The broadcast windows will start with a studio show at 7 p.m. ET, a new feature for the NWSL. In addition to broadcasting through antenna channels (it's channel 33 in Seattle) and cable packages, ION is also available on platforms like fubo TV, YouTube TV, Roku, and tubi. The deal with the WNBA included Friday-night matches on ION, and according to the WNBA and Scripps, "The 23 games over 15 weeks reached a total of 12.3 million viewers."
League commissioner Jessica Berman confirmed at a press conference that teams will be able to continue negotiating local broadcast deals, as OL Reign did in 2023 with FOX 13+. With the significant increase in broadcast funding coming to the NWSL, the quality of the broadcast should improve as well. Berman noted that the league will double the number of cameras used for matches.
For the NWSL playoffs – which will expand to eight teams – Prime Video and CBS will have the rights to one quarterfinal each, while ESPN/ABC will air the other two quarterfinals. CBS and ESPN/ABC will each have a semifinal. CBS also committed to airing the NWSL championship on primetime over the next four years of this deal.
In what feels like an indirect acknowledgment that multiple partners could make it hard for the more casual fan to find matches on a given day, the league press release also notes that each partner has made “significant commitments to marketing and promoting the NWSL, and importantly, cross-marketing each other’s scheduled broadcasts.”
NWSL Broadcast Breakdown
- Minimum of 21 Games
- Regular season:
- CBS and Paramount+: Minimum of 10 games per season
- CBS Sports Network: Minimum of 8 games per season
- CBS and Paramount+: 1 quarterfinal per season
- CBS and Paramount+: 1 semifinal per season
- CBS and Paramount+: NWSL Championship
- 20 games
- Regular season:
- 17 regular season games per season
- 2 quarterfinals per season
- 1 semifinal per season
- 27 games
- Regular season:
- 25 Friday night games per season
- 1 season-opening kickoff match
- 1 quarterfinal per season
- 50 games
- 25 exclusive Saturday night double-headers on ION, games with 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET starts.
- Weekly studio show leading off each doubleheader Saturday at 7 p.m. ET
- 2024 NWSL Draft