ESPN adds NWSL international rights to domestic deal

19 August 2019 | Broadcasting & New Media
ESPN adds NWSL international rights to domestic deal
Sports broadcasting giant ESPN has secured the exclusive worldwide rights to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the top flight of women’s soccer in the US.

ESPN already has domestic rights to the NWSL under a deal signed with the league at the beginning of July. The new agreement, which covers territories outside of the US, gives the broadcaster linear and digital coverage of the competition’s regular season and play-off matches for the remainder of the season.

ESPN’s international coverage got underway over the weekend with the Utah Royals’ 2-0 win over Orlando Pride, followed by league leaders the Portland Thorns’ 3-1 victory against Washington Spirit.

The deal is the latest distribution agreement to be signed by the NWSL after it announced an ‘amicable end’ to its broadcast partnership with A+E Networks in February, despite there being one year left to run on the contract. The league’s games are still streamed on Verizon-owned Yahoo Sports, which is the NWSL’s digital rights partner.

“This is an important step for NWSL to strengthen the league’s reach through ESPN’s international network,” said NWSL President Amanda Duffy.

“Our partnership with ESPN has already brought NWSL’s world-class competition into more homes and to more fans here in the United States. Expanding the network’s distribution internationally will continue to elevate the profile and visibility of NWSL around the world.”

The NWSL has enjoyed a popularity boom in the aftermath of the US women’s national team’s (USWNT) second consecutive triumph at the Fifa Women’s World Cup. Various franchises have broken their attendance records, with the Portland Thorns setting an all-time NWSL record on 11th August when 25,218 fans turned out for their win against North Carolina Courage.

“The National Women’s Soccer League is home to many of the world’s top female players, and as a brand, ESPN leads the way in delivering world-class soccer content to fans around the world,” added Scott Guglielmino, Senior Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions at ESPN.

“We are thrilled to be able to leverage ESPN’s global reach to bring NWSL’s regular season and playoff matches to soccer audiences worldwide.”

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