The National Women’s Soccer League announced four-year agreements with Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, E.W. Scripps’ ION and Paramount’s CBS and Paramount+ in a massive deal combining streaming and traditional distribution.
The four players will divvy up 118 matches of the season starting in 2024. Prime Video will feature a weekly Friday night match. ION will get a double-header on Saturday night on its free over-the-air channel, CBS, the CBS Sports Network, and Paramount+ will get a package of regular season matches, and ESPN will air a package of matches across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes, with all of them also streaming via ESPN+.
The deals mark a landmark plan that effectively slices and dices the individual matches so that they’re able to be distributed with a mix of streaming and traditional linear partners. The deals should give the league much further reach for its matches. The NWSL said the remainder of the regular season games will be part of a direct-to-consumer streaming package.
“These partnerships fundamentally change the game for our league and the players who take the pitch each week. On behalf of the NWSL, our owners and players, I want to commend CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps for investing in our league and affirmatively declaring to the marketplace that this league is exciting, valuable, and important,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman in a statement.
That so many different streaming services have a hand in this deal speaks to the ever-growing interest in live sports. Prime Video has been steadily increasing its portfolio of games, including its flagship NFL Thursday Night Football, while Paramount+ already carries Serie A soccer. For ION, the addition of another sports league brings more credibility to the sixth-largest network behind The CW. On Thursday, it touted the success of its partnership with the WNBA.
“We are honored to collaborate with the NWSL as it continues to grow into one of the most prestigious leagues in the world, with remarkable athletes and world-class competition,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of U.S. sports content and partnerships for Amazon.
“We’re thrilled to extend our relationship with the NWSL, continuing as the home of the NWSL Championship and offering an expanded slate of matches on CBS as we build on the success of the last four years,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports.
CBS will continue to carry the NWSL championship match. Prime Video and CBS will get the rights to one quarterfinal match, while ESPN and ABC will air the other two. CBS and ESPN/ABC will each have a semifinal match.
ION will carry the NWSL Draft in January.