By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The English Women’s Super League (WSL), the female equivalent of the English Premier League, has signed a deal with Sky Sports and the BBC for televising their matches for three years, commencing with the next season, 2021-2022.
Previously, the matches have shown, for free, by the BBC.
Under the new deal, the BBC will broadcast 22 live matches, with a minimum of 18 shown on BBC One or BBC Two.
Sky Sports will broadcast up to 44 matches screened across the Main Event, Premier League and Sky Sports Football Channel.
The English Football Association (FA) Head of Women’s Football, Kelly Simmons, stated:
“It is one of the biggest deals commercially, definitely for Women’s Football in terms of a domestic deal, and up there for women’s sport.”
Steph Houghton, the England and Manchester City Captain, remarked that the deal was:
“An amazing step forward for women’s football and the players can’t wait to show the world what an unbelievable League we have.”
The FA added that it expects the audience figures to be “significantly above the most successful and high-profile women’s domestic sports leagues in the world.”
According to FIFA, the World Governing Body of Football, a record-breaking 1.12 billion people wiewed the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Although no figures for the new deal have been released, it is believed that Sky Sports have paid £8 million for the rights and that the BBC has also paid an undisclosed sum for their rights.
The new deal will certainly give the WSL additional exposure and also provide revenue for the further development of professional women’s football in England.
Onwards and upwards for the women’s game, as they say!