National Women’s Soccer League Signs Media Deal with Twitch and CBS
Twitch won’t just be an e-sports livestreaming platform anymore; it’s expanding to traditional, in person sports through a deal with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). In addition to the league’s deal with CBS Sports, the league also signed a three-year deal with Amazon’s Twitch that gave the platform the rights to stream their games. These deals mark the first time the NWSL games will be viewable for such a large audience and hope to foster more awareness for women’s soccer. For Amazon, this is just another extension into the sports world with Twitch being the largest esports streaming sites. The deal with NWSL joins other sports leagues partnered with Twitch, which already streams the NBA’s official minor league as well as the National Women’s Hockey League games.
NWSL Games Available Across Multiple Platforms
24 select games from the 2020 NWSL regular season will be available for free on Twitch. All of the other games will be on CBS, CBS Sports Network, and CBS All Access. All 108 regular season games, the playoffs, and the championship games will be made available to the world on Twitch as the NWSL’s exclusive international partner outside the US. Known for its interactivity, Twitch and NWSL plan to create original programs as well as league and player-focused content.
The NWSL landed these deals through the international sports agency Octagon with which the league signed a media rights and marketing strategy partnership in October, which provided the league a secure revenue stream for three years. This was after the NWSL ended its media partnership with A&E Network and was without a secure outlet for broadcasting their games in 2019. The league then made a deal with ESPN during the season, which provided them with international coverage.
Women’s Professional Soccer Grows in Popularity
The NWSL hopes to take advantage of their new partnerships with CBS and Twitch to reach more viewers as more people forego traditional cable television for online streaming. Lisa Baird, the commissioner of the NWSL, said in a press release, “these partnerships will continue to amplify the NWSL and its teams on a national and international stage,” after expressing the team’s excitement with working with the two broadcasters to showcase women’s professional sports.
After the last FIFA World Cup, the NWSL has seen a surge in popularity and its new media deals also raised more interest for the women’s league. Using Twitch as a broadcaster for the first time will make the league accessible to its young audience base with 71% of its users being millennials. The platform will allow the NWSL with new opportunities to experiment and create content to continue to grow their audience and supporters. As one of the pioneers in sports livestreaming, successful viewership may initiate other leagues to follow in the NWSL’s footsteps away from traditional networks and towards a mixed-media strategy.
The NWSL season will begin on April 18 with a match between OL Reign and Washington Spirit. And now this year viewers can easily find and watch the games online a little easier than years before.