The English Football Association (‘FA’) has signed a record breaking deal with Sky Sports and the BBC, for the broadcasting rights to the FA Women’s Super League (‘WSL’). This piece acknowledges the deal’s significance on women’s football and considers: firstly, the agreement; secondly, its impact on competition; and finally, its commitment to the WSL.
First, the deal in brief. It is worth £7 million per year over three seasons, and will see the WSL generate more revenue than any other domestic women’s football league in the world. For each round, Sky Sports and the BBC will air two fixtures and one fixture respectively, with the remaining 75 games to be shown on the FA Player. As a result, the WSL is set to become the world’s most viewed women’s sports league. Clubs in the WSL will receive 75% of the share, with the remaining 25% to be apportioned between teams in the Championship.
Second, the deal’s momentous impact on competition in the WSL. Media rights agreements have played a fundamental role in the growth of the men’s Premier League in recent decades, and this deal has the potential to make a similarly transformational impact on the WSL. Economically, the deal reinforces the financial capacity of clubs in the top two tiers of women’s football. This means that, at least for some clubs, they will rely less on their parent Premier League club and independently grow their own revenue. The stream of money also introduces sustainability to the WSL’s clubs, some of which have struggled to stay financially afloat. The deal positions the WSL in the mainstream by allocating games in prime slots on Sky Sports and the BBC. Attracting big audiences on a weekly basis sparks the ambition of sporting clubs to increase their profile and improve the quality of their games.
Finally, the deal’s commitment to the WSL. The agreement is a landmark moment for women’s football, with two of the UK’s largest broadcasters signalling their pledge to the WSL. It is historic because the broadcasting rights are unbundled from the men’s packages for the first time. This has uncovered the WSL’s value, which will enable further commercial investment. From an economic perspective, it demonstrates that the women’s game is growing and carries significant tangible value.
If you are interested in learning more about the deal and its implications, The Athletic has released a podcast episode that can be accessed on Spotify: