NWSL, FOX reach agreement on broadcast deal

The Equalizer Staff June 30, 2015 28

The NWSL is switching broadcast partners again returning to FOX for the 2015 season. The agreement calls for three regular season matches and all three playoff games to be shown live on Fox Sports 1. Four other matches will be streamed on FoxSportsGo.com (FSGO.) All of the regular season matches are in Portland and Houston. The only team not featured as an away side will be the Flash while the Reign will be featured twice. As part of the agreement the championship match will be played on Thursday, October 1. It will be the first time in nine seasons of women’s professional soccer that the championship has not been played on a weekend. All 19 MLS Cups have also been decided on weekends.

“We are extremely thrilled to once again partner with FOX Sports to broadcast the National Women’s Soccer League to a national audience,” NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush said in a release. “FOX Sports’s commitment to soccer, and especially the women’s game, is fully on display during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Their impressive coverage and outstanding viewership during the tournament demonstrates their passion and dedication for the beautiful game.”

The FSGO games will feature the regular broadcast teams for the Thorns and Dash. FOX talent will call the FS1 matches.

The NWSL and FOX partnered in 2013. ESPN aired league matches in 2014.

The full schedule is:

Wednesday, July 22 (10 pm EDT) — Seattle Reign FC at Portland ThornsFC (FSGO)
Wednesday, July 29 (8:30 pm EDT) — FC Kansas City at Houston Dash (FSGO)
Wednesday, August 5 (10 pm EDT) — Boston Breakers at Portland Thorns FC (FSGO)
Friday, August 7 (8:30 pm EDT) — Sky Blue FC at Houston Dash (FSGO)
Sunday, August 9 (9:30 pm EDT) — Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns FC (FS1)
Friday, August 21 (8 pm EDT) — Seattle Reign FC at Houston Dash (FS1)
Sunday, August 30 (9:30 pm EDT) — Washington Spirit at Portland Thorns FC (FS1)

Sunday, September 13 (TBD) — NWSL semifinal
Sunday, September 13 (TBD) — NWSL semifinal
Thursday, October 1 (TBD) — NWSL Championship

  • Calci0

    A positive for the league!!!

  • Lorehead

    I wonder if the NWSL will get paid any money for this, or it will just get on national TV.

    • mockmook

      I’ve never heard of a deal where the league isn’t paid. Have you seen that before?

      • Lorehead

        I don’t think the league was paid for either of its last two TV contracts, although I could be mistaken. It let FOX Sports 2 and ESPN2 show its games for free. I don’t know about the deals with regional cable.

        • mockmook

          Did not know that — wow, the NWSL really needs a national sponsor who will help get more games on TV (and pay the league).

      • STT

        My impression was that any TV deals for leagues outside of the big four (or now big five maybe) are usually the leagues buying time from the TV network and not the network paying for the league, simply because most leagues don’t garner enough popular interest to be money-makers

        • mockmook

          Yeesh….that’s depressing.

  • GT

    Big plus. Kudos to Jeff Plush. I was beginning to wonder what he was doing.

  • Lisa

    More coverage is certainly good – but does this mean games will only be viewable live? FSGo doesn’t have a replay option as far as I’ve noticed (it’s also not 1080p .. not that most of the current NWSL youtube streams manage that either). Also, what about international fans?

    • mockmook

      I believe they still put the games on the NWSL YouTube (a few days later) — I think that is how it worked in the past.

    • Rdalford

      FSGO does has full match replays check the “videos” full match selection

      • Lisa

        huh. I don’t know if this is only accessible on certain platforms or what .. but I can’t find replays either through the web browser on a linux machine, or on my phone app, or on the windows app. :/

  • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

    Meh… I really think the NWSL should have played a slow hand and make efforts to cultivate a stronger internet audience before going into a TV deal. However, this deal seems to be a short term money injection and not a big commitment- which is beneficial to the league.

  • HM

    Well, Portland has the best venue for TV audiences. And they have Alex Morgan. Too bad Thorns won’t even make the playoffs.

  • STT

    Having the final on a non-weekend is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Also, the fact that it’s been pushed back all the way into October is pretty weird, too. I mean, for playoffs that are just three games total, having the final nearly five weeks after the last regular season game instead of just two weeks it just off-kilter. I think it’s pretty clear the league was getting desperate to cut some kind of deal with someone at this point.

    • Guest

      part of the gap in Sept is to avoid playing during a FIFA calendar window

  • Wosofan

    Positive move. Weekday night makes sense in the fall due to football – college and NFL.

  • Miami66

    Only 3 regular season TV matches so not surprised its only those two. Surprised WASH, KC & SEA don’t have home FSGO games though. And yeah…championship on a Thursday is weird. Should’ve been on a Saturday night.

    • Steglitz49

      Saturday night probably competes with some men’s sport or other.

      • dylan

        Not really—most of college football is played during the day. They wouldn’t put it on a Sunday as that goes up vs the NFL during the day and Sunday Night Football at night. Thursday runs up vs Thursday night NFL, so pick your poison.

        • Steglitz49

          No men’s incl college game on a Saturday night? Hard to believe. Other sport of simply entertainment?

          • Miami66

            There are men’s NCAA games on saturday night. But I don’t think that’s the reason, its not really the same audience. Plus there is Thursday Night NFL now anyway so that can’t be the reason.

  • AlexH

    If the WNT wins on Sunday maybe Fox will decide to air more games.

  • I wish they were broadcasting a game at Kansas City. The match vs Houston in August that is being played at Sporting Park would be a perfect broadcast game.

  • Tae

    That’s all the matches we get? Dam I was so excited about the title of this article. I mean I guess it’s better than nothing and I’m glad Houston (that is to say Morgan Brian) features but geeze. I would pay a sub fee to stream NWSL games. Man for all the ridiculous crap they show on sports channels, I can’t believe we can’t have a few more NWSL matches.
    Is there grounds for some sort of lawsuit that compels broadcasters to show more NWSL? If federal funding compels universities to abide by Title IX requirements, why can’t broadcasters who enjoy huge financial gain from federal licenses for broadcast network rights, or government supported monopolies on local cable (don’t even ask me what my Comcast bill is, I don’t even want to be reminded), be compelled to show more women’s sports?
    Or maybe the social justice warrior types could spend less time shaming dudes who say stupid things and banning speakers from campus and work more on issues like this, getting more access to women’s sports.

    • AlexH

      I think it might have to do with the fact that at this point in the year FS1 might be running short of 2 hour blocks of time. Also, not every venue in NWSL can accommodate a network telecast.

  • Tae

    Question: which women’s pro league is in the best shape? In particular, which one is able to pay the most to the players?

  • Eric Wilder

    The WNY Flash don’t get a game?! COME ON!!