The NWSL is about to expand its television reach, after years of an exclusive CBS deal.
The league has reached agreements for its television rights with ESPN, CBS, Amazon and Scripps, according to Sportico. The deals reportedly run for four years and will expire in time for the league to sell its rights again after the 2027 Women’s world Cup.
The value of the deals remains unknown, but reportedly add up to being 10 times larger than the $1.5 million the NWSL previously received from its CBS deal, which also required the league to handle the eight-figure expense of game production. The deals reportedly put the league above the revenue of the Women’s Super League in Europe.
The deal is a significant contrast to what the NWSL’s male counterpart in the U.S., Major League Soccer, did with its most recent TV rights deal. Rather than spread its rights among different networks like the NFL, NBA and MLB do, MLS inked a 10-year exclusive deal with Apple worth at least a total of $2.5 billion.
For the most part, MLS games can now only be watched through the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, a decision that has so far paid off thanks to the addition of one Lionel Messi.
The NWSL is making these deals amid a period of growth, with expansion teams on the way in Utah, the Bay Area and Boston, in addition to the four teams the league has added (Angel City, San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, Kansas City Current) since 2021. Sportico reports the league is in the process of adding one more expansion team to bring the total to 16.
The Bay Area and Boston teams each came with record expansion fees of $53 million, nearly $20 million more than what the Washington Spirit sold for last year. Sportico estimates the average NWSL team to now be worth $66 million, the the Los Angeles-based Angel City topping the list at $180 million.
With its new arrangement of television rights, the NWSL figures to see significantly more exposure than its previous era, in which most of its games were restricted to Paramount+ and its championship game once had to be played at 9 a.m. local time to fit a CBS time window.