The BBC will broadcast the Women’s Super League for the first time on the free-to-air television network as part of a “historic” three-year broadcast deal.
From next season, WSL games will be broadcast live on BBC and Sky in a deal worth £ 7-8million per season.
The remaining matches not selected for broadcast by the BBC or Sky will be broadcast live on FA Player.
The BBC will broadcast 22 matches live, with a minimum of 18 broadcast on either BBC One or BBC Two.
Sky Sports will cover up to 44 matches broadcast on Main Event, Premier League and Sky Sports Football channels.
The agreements with the two broadcasters will last until the summer of 2024.
Kelly Simmons of the Football Association expects the deal to give the WSL a huge audience boost.
“This is one of the biggest trade deals, certainly for women’s football in terms of a national deal, and up there for women’s sport,” she said.
“We have benchmarks for what we believe are the most successful and high-profile women’s sports leagues in the world, like the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) and NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), and they’re below hundreds of thousands. an average peak per week.
“We expect it to be significantly higher than that.”
England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton told BBC Sport it was an “incredible step forward” for women’s football and the players can’t wait to “show the world what an incredible league we have” .
“The way the sport has developed in this country over the past few years has been amazing,” she added.
“I think this will really push our league to be the best in Europe, if not the world.”
What are the details of the broadcast?
- 22 matches live on BBC TV, including a minimum of 18 on BBC One and BBC Two (matches remaining on red button and online)
- Up to 44 live matches, with a minimum of 35, broadcast on Sky Sports Football, Premier League and Main Event channels
- The selected matches will also be broadcast simultaneously on Sky One and Sky Sports Mix.
- All broadcasters will have rights to the online coverage, playing clips and highlights (WSL clubs also have the rights to the clips and playing highlights)
- Remaining matches not selected for broadcast are streamed live on FA Player
- There will be a free play on BBC every weekend, with Sky having two more choices
- Selected matches should be scheduled for Friday 6.30 p.m. GMT, Saturday 11.30 a.m. GMT, Sunday 12.30 p.m. GMT and Sunday 6.30 p.m. GMT
- 75% of investment income goes to WSL clubs, 25% to women’s championship
“ A defining moment for the WSL ”
Simmons, the FA’s director of professional women’s play, said the deal combines two top priorities for the FA: increasing the visibility of the WSL and attracting investment to further develop the quality of the league.
“We desperately want more and better. It’s always about looking forward and trying to fix the things that aren’t happy with us. It feels like one of those real moments of radical change for women’s football. “said Simmons.
“The job we are doing now will be to project these future revenues down the line. We have always told clubs to believe and invest and now that will be the start of seeing that there is an ability for the game to take profits and [move away from] long-term dependence on men’s football.
“It’s going to be extremely visible next season. I’m sure it will inspire thousands and thousands of girls to play the game so I can’t wait.”
Kathryn Swarbrick, FA Director of Sales and Marketing, added: “This is a moment to celebrate – a defining moment in the future of the WSL – with just an incredible perspective.
“This reach, combined with this huge investment in the game, makes us really confident that this is going to be a huge step forward in achieving our ambition to have the best national women’s professional league in the world.”
How does the deal compare globally?
The FA has said it expects the audience figures to be “significantly higher” than the most successful and “high profile” national women’s sports leagues in the world.
They also said it was “certainly” the biggest commercial broadcast deal in women’s football.
“We are going to broadcast more games live, reach a larger audience and generate more revenue than any other women’s national league in the world,” Swarbrick said.
“I think that’s a pretty big testament to how strong the product the WSL is now.”
A record 1.12 billion viewers watched the 2019 Women’s World Cup, according to Fifa, while 28.1 million people watched BBC coverage of the tournament on TV and online.
“We attract players from all over the world, but at the same time English players in this league are testing themselves against the best,” Houghton said.
“The level of the league is increasing and that’s mainly because people are training full time.
“It’s probably only in the last few years – since the 2015 World Cup – that I think it’s developed so quickly. Being at the heart of it is really special.”