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WSL lands Canadian exposure in two-year Sportsnet deal

Canadian pay-television broadcaster Sportsnet began broadcasting matches from the FA Women’s Super League on Saturday as part of an exclusive rights agreement negotiated shortly before the start of the 2020-21 season.

Sportsnet has announced a deal covering the next two seasons as Canadian interest in the league increases on the back of homegrown stars Jessie Fleming and Shelina Zadorsky moving over the summer to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively.

Sportsnet is to broadcast 50 regular-season matches, along with the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals and final. Selected matches are to be showcased on Sportsnet’s linear TV channels but “several” fixtures will be shown instead on Sportsnet’s SN Now streaming platform.

The Rogers Sports & Media-owned broadcaster kicked off its WSL offering with a trio of matches streamed on SN Now over the weekend, including Aston Villa against Manchester City on Saturday and Manchester United versus Chelsea on Sunday.

Fleming and Zadorsky have supplemented a strong Canadian contingent in the WSL that already included Manchester City’s Janine Beckie and West Ham United’s Adriana Leon.

International rights to the WSL are sold by the Pitch International agency.

The deal in Canada follows hot on the heels of a landmark agreement agreed with US broadcaster NBC Sports.

As part of a season-long rights deal, NBC Sports is also airing 50 games across its platforms, including at least 12 matches on cable network NBCSN, with other games on the NBC Sports app and on NBCSports.com.

Women’s soccer marketing company Atalanta Media helped facilitate the US agreement, which marks the first time that the league is broadcast stateside. Last week, subscription streaming broadcaster DAZN also acquired rights to stream 44 matches this season in Germany and Italy.

WSL fans in countries without a broadcast deal can watch the league on in-house OTT streaming platform The FA Player.