NWSL regains national broadcast platform with ESPN deal

The National Women’s Soccer League, the sport’s top division in the United States, has today (Thursday) secured a return to national television after agreeing a deal with sports broadcaster ESPN.

The NWSL has been without a broadcast partner since A+E Networks in February ended its three-year partnership a year early. That has left the league with only its streaming partnership with Yahoo Sports.

ESPN has today committed to televise 14 league matches during the remainder of the 2019 season. Eight matches will air on ESPNews, and the remaining six, including the two semi-finals and the championship, will air on ESPN2.

NWSL broadcasts will begin on July 14, with ESPNews covering the meeting between the Portland Thorns and Orlando Pride. All NWSL matches broadcast on ESPN networks will stream live on the ESPN App.

Last year, more fans came to see NWSL games than any other regular season in the league’s history, with a total regular season attendance of more than 650,000. The 2018 NWSL Championship broke the record for the largest all-time crowd of a women’s professional soccer championship with a sellout crowd of 21,144.

ESPN has sporadically covered the NWSL in the past. Burke Magnus, executive vice-president of programming and scheduling at ESPN, said: “The success and excitement of the (Fifa) World Cup in France has been on full display and the NWSL represents the best women’s club soccer in the world.”