NWSL Kicks Off New Season With Improved Broadcast Resources Deployed Across Entire Lineup of Matches

The league commits resources to delivering an equitable broadcast product across all matches

It’s already shaping up to be another huge year for women’s soccer in the United States.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) roared back onto the scene this past weekend with numerous attendance records set and a live broadcast effort spearheaded by the league that delivered every match live to Paramount+.

This was an offseason that saw the NWSL make significant resources in its broadcast product: that has meant committing to at least six broadcast-quality cameras on every match, adding direct fiber connectivity to nearly every one of its venues, and bringing on experienced talent to work the front bench.

It’s all timing out well for a league that is coming off record-breaking viewership for last season’s championship and with the FIFA Women’s World Cup on the horizon [and the USWNT gunning for three-peat].

“We are in the best position we have ever been in as a league to leverage [the FIFA Women’s World Cup], says Brian Gordon, SVP/Executive Producer, Broadcast and Media for the NWSL. “The stars everyone knows – and the young stars emerging – for the USWNT play in our league every week.”

The NWSL is tasked with the production of all 176 of its matches. To meet that demand, the league has partnered with NEP Group to handle that work with VISTA Worldlink and their South Florida-based production facility.

170 of the matches are done via a REMI/at-home workflow and delivered to either Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. The league made the financial commitment this offseason to ensure equality of resources across all of those matches this season. Whether the match is streaming or on cable, every game will feature six broadcast cameras, full replay ability, a uniform graphics package, and more.

“That’s the biggest difference year-over-year,” says Gordon. “This goes back to investments that our [Board of Governors] made. We want to make sure that the viewing experience is the same no matter if you’re going to be watching on CBS Sports Network or Paramount+. They are treated as equal shows.”

On the camera front, gone are the days of using prosumer cameras in live game streams. Every camera on a given show is broadcast-caliber with lenses ranging from 55x to just over 100x. The league’s connectivity infrastructure is also improved this year. Every NWSL venue, other than two, is connected directly to VISTA via fiber. In the past, the league had built its transmission plan on the public Internet.

The remaining six matches on the calendar have already been circled for national broadcasts on CBS (the first of which is this Saturday when Kansas City Current hosts Portland Thorns FC at 12:50 p.m. ET). On those matches, Gordon and Megan Buchan, the league’s Director, Broadcast and Production directly oversee those shows, working closely CBS Sports and Coordinating Producer-Outside Remote Production Julie Keryc. Those broadcasts are full on-site truck shows.

The NWSL has also hired some top-flight storytelling talent both in front of and behind the camera. Over the offseason, the league announced a reshaped lineup of on-air commentators while bringing on producers and directors that have called the shots on matches in World Cups and Olympics.

The year the league is also taking the massive step of introducing VAR (or Video Assistant Referee). The NWSL is the first women’s soccer league in the world to implement VAR.

Naturally, that impacts the broadcast, as well. The league hosted a broadcast seminar earlier this month where its broadcast partners were able to visit VISTA’s facility in Florida, see the live production process of a match, and even see VAR utilized on a friendly between Angel City FC and Club América Femenil (of Liga MX Femenil).

The league is also growing internationally. Just before the opening of the season, the league officially announced that it had announced a partnership to launch a global streaming service (powered by Endeavor Streaming) for viewers outside of the United States for the upcoming 2023 season. That deal ensures that matches will be available free of charge for fans globally on NWSLSoccer.com.

Also, the NWSL announced two streaming deals with international distributors DAZN and Tigo. The DAZN agreement delivers matches to Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, UK, France, Belgium, Portugal as well as Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Sweden), Brazil and the Netherlands. Tigo, the Central American distributor will offer live matches to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

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