Brighton's Hope Powell hails 'significant moment' as WSL announce £10m Sky and BBC TV deal
Brighton Women's head coach Hope Powell believes the new broadcast deal for the Women’s Super League, that will see matches shown on Sky Sports and BBC One and Two over the next three seasons, is a 'significant moment' for women's football
Sky Sports, which will be showing WSL football for the first time, is replacing BT Sport as the division’s primary broadcaster.
The investment from Sky Sports is said to be just under £10million per season, including production, with additional marketing and exposure commitments taking the figure to around £15m per season.
It has the right to show up to 44 matches per season, with a minimum of 35 being screened.
The new deal will see the WSL become the most-watched women’s sports league, ahead of the USA's Women’s National Basketball Association and National Women’s Soccer League.
The BBC has committed to showcasing 22 live games per season, with a minimum of 18 on BBC One and BBC Two. Previously, games have been shown live by the BBC on iPlayer and the red button service.
It is the first time the rights to the WSL have been sold separately from the men’s game, with clubs in the league receiving a proportion of the revenue.
Part of it will also be distributed to clubs in the Women’s Championship, with the split being 75 per cent (WSL) to 25 per cent.
Powell said, “It’s a great move for the development of the WSL and the women’s game in this country.
"It will raise the profile of the clubs and the players themselves and we’re looking forward to working with Sky Sports and BBC to promote our club, the WSL and women’s football.
"It feels like a significant moment, especially with the Euros coming up in 2022 in England.”
Polly Bancroft, Albion’s general manager for women’s and girls’ football, said: “The increased visibility will help us raise the profile of the team and build our fan base.
"It will showcase our athletes in living rooms nationally, giving supporters more opportunities to follow our progress in the Women’s Super League throughout the season.
“The matchday build up and surrounding coverage including in-depth features on players will allow supporters to see behind the scenes and to get to know the squad better.”
The FA’s director of the women’s professional game, Kelly Simmons, said the deal was “a game-changing agreement that will transform” the WSL.
Simmons said it will “take us to be the most watched women’s sports league in the world” and that she believed it was “the biggest deal commercially for women’s football in terms of a domestic deal.”
She said: “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 fanbase. It is bringing in vital new commercial revenue into the league and clubs. And, most importantly in some ways, it’s providing a fantastic platform to inspire girls and women to play the game.
“This partnership provides a wonderful platform on which to deliver on our ambitions and really to put the WSL at the global forefront of the women’s game.
“When we look at the benchmarks around audience, this without doubt will take us to be the most watched women’s sports league in the world.
Asked if she believed it was the biggest deal in women’s domestic sports history, Simmons said: “(It is) I think the biggest deal commercially for women’s football in terms of a domestic deal, and up there with women’s sport."