NWSL Championship nets 43% growth for ESPN’s TV ratings

1 November 2019 | Broadcasting & New Media
NWSL Championship nets 43% growth for ESPN’s TV ratings
ESPN’s coverage of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship game on 27th October drew an average 166,000 viewers, the competition's highest ratings for a single match in three years.

The Disney-owned broadcaster acquired US rights to the second half of the 2019 NWSL season in July, including live coverage of 14 fixtures, before securing exclusive worldwide rights to the competition a month later.

Viewership for the Championship game, which saw North Carolina Courage defeat Chicago Red Stars 4-0 to become the second team to win back-to-back NWSL titles, was up 43 per cent on figures for the 2018 final.

Due to the choice of venue for the final, attendance at the Sahlen’s Stadium, the Courage’s 10,000-seat capacity home venue, was less than half compared to 21,000 which attended last season’s final at Portland’s Providence Park, a record for the showpiece fixture.

The NWSL season finished with an average of 81,000 viewers across ESPN’s  networks, up seven percent year-on-year.

By moving onto the network, the NWSL also made its biggest year-on-year gains among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. On average, 37,000 viewers within the age bracket watched the NWSL, marking a 32 per cent increase on the year before.

The ratings boost comes at a good time for the NWSL as it heads into the off-season. The league recently signed a multi-year media rights consulting and marketing strategy partnership with international sports agency Octagon. The partnership is designed to grow the value of the North American women’s soccer league’s media rights and sponsorship both domestically and globally.

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