The Women’s Super League will be shown on Sky Sports and the BBC from next season in a historic, TV deal thought to be worth around £21m across three seasons. Since 2013, BBC and BT Sport have shared the rights with BT Sport showing 22 live matches during this season and the BBC picking up games on the red button and their online i-Player service. Games not shown on either channel are aired live on the FA Player app.
From next season, Sky Sports will take over from BT Sports and they have pledged to show 35 of their 44 WSL games on their Premier League and Main Event channels. For their part, BBC have pledged to show 18 of their 22 live games on either BBC One or BBC Two rather than the red button. The BBC reportedly averages viewing figures of 285,000 for WSL games while their Sunday evening highlights show, the Women’s Football Show, is said to average around 500,000 viewers.
The deal is the first of its kind in English women’s football, previously BT and BBC didn’t pay for the right to show games, instead just absorbing the broadcasting costs. There is also a pledge that 25% of the TV money will go to clubs in the WSL Championship, the second tier of women’s football in England. Some of the money will be used for central investments, including support for development of refereeing and for pitch improvements to reduce the number of fixture postponements. This deal will increase the revenue coming into the women’s game in England as well as raising the profile markedly.
The deal will usher in some new kickoff times too, with broadcast games set to take place at 1830GMT Friday, 1130GMT Saturday, 1230GMT Sunday and 1830GMT Sunday. Sky and BBC will have highlights rights and clubs will be permitted to post in-game highlights on their social media channels.
The FA’s director of commercial and marketing, Kathryn Swarbrick, said,: “We are going to be working really closely with Sky Sports on what they do best, which is to monster this whole thing up, so really driving awareness of the WSL, building a profile of the players, of the clubs, and also creating the kind of content that will excite fans on the pre- and post-match commentary, and the story-telling around the WSL more broadly.”