NBC Sports will present 50 FA Women’s Super League matches across the company’s various platforms for the 2020-21 season, including at least 12 matches on NBCSN. The partnership begins this weekend and marks the first time the WSL will air on TV in the United States.
Manchester United vs. Chelsea will be the first match shown on NBCSN, on tape delay on Sunday at noon ET. The match will stream live on the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com.
The rights deal was brokered by a new company called Atalanta Media, which was founded by former professional player Esmeralda Negron (previously of Relevent Sports) and ex-Sky media rights executive Hannah Brown, “to accelerate access to the very best women’s football for fans, broadcasters, sponsors and publishers.”
The WSL’s arrival on U.S. television comes as several top United States women’s national team stars head overseas. Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle signed with Manchester City earlier this month, and Tobin Heath and Christen Press are close to joining Manchester United, as first reported by The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta. Several other recognizable players to National Women’s Soccer League fans will also play in the WSL for part of or the entire 2020-21 season.
“We’re excited to partner with Atalanta Media to bring this world-class Women’s Super League competition to U.S. television for the first time,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.
Following is the match schedule for this week across NBC Sports (all times ET, subject to change):
|Sat., Sept. 5||9:30 a.m.||Aston Villa v. Manchester City||NBC Sports app/NBCSports.com (LIVE)|
|Sun., Sept. 6||7:30 a.m.||Arsenal v. Reading||NBC Sports app/NBCSports.com (LIVE)|
|Sun., Sept. 6||9:30 a.m.||Manchester United v. Chelsea||NBC Sports app/NBCSports.com (LIVE)|
|Sun., Sept. 6||Noon||Manchester United v. Chelsea||NBCSN|
Atalanta Media is supported with seed capital and technology resources by Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners. The company marked its launch by announcing the NBC deal in the United States as well as deals with DAZN in Italy and Germany to stream 44 WSL fixtures live and on demand this season.
Negron says the idea for Atalanta Media grew from her own frustrations with not being able to watch more top women’s soccer competitions in the United States.
“Our idea was ‘what if we start to invest in these rights, purchase them and then partner with premium broadcast to deliver these matches,” Negron told Front Office Sports. “Previously it had been stuck; the rights holders want money but for the broadcasters it’s not a proven concept so it makes it hard to invest. That leads to it never getting the distribution it needs to help generate fandom and provide the regular access to women’s club football to grow it.”