LONDON (AP) — The Women’s Super League will benefit from prominent free broadcasts in Britain for the first time when the BBC starts showing live games on its main channels, while Sky will begin paying for rights.
The three-season deal is the first time the Football Association has generated revenue from the separate domestic sale of women’s rights after a decade of the WSL. The FA said it was a “multimillion-pound agreement” with Sky, which is not set to exceed 10 million pounds ($14 million) per season.
With men’s Premier League games all usually live on subscription services in Britain, some fixtures from Europe’s only fully-professional women’s league could gain a bigger audience with at least 18 slots on BBC One and BBC Two from next season.
Previously WSL games on the BBC had been shown live only on streaming or interactive TV services rather than on the two channels that appear at the top of digital programming guides.
“We are delighted to offer the FA Women’s Super League a free-to-air platform to ensure the sport, and the players, connect with the widest possible audience,” said Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport.
The bulk of live games — at least 35 — will be on Sky Sports, which replaces BT Sport as the WSL’s pay TV partner and also airs the Premier League. Sky is owned by Comcast, which has been airing WSL games via NBC’s sports services this season.
The FA’s director of the women’s professional game, Kelly Simmons, said teams pursuing Champions League glory would still be reliant on their own investment to challenge for silverware. But Simmons said the WSL had now secured the most lucrative domestic TV rights deal for a women’s football league.
“This is a landmark deal, not just for the WSL but the whole of the women’s game — it’s really going to help us to grow and engage our fan base,” she said. “It is transformational. This is mainstream, this is prime slots on television, big audiences, week in week out. And I think it’s such an exciting step for the women’s game.”
Games not on Sky Sports or the BBC will be shown live via the governing body’s FA Player streaming service, which has international availability.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports