THE Barclays FA Women’s Super League is to be shown live on TV for the next three years.
The FA, Sky Sports and BBC have announced the landmark rights deal that will see more access to live women’s football than ever before.
The three-year agreement to broadcast the Barclays FA Women’s Super League takes effect from the 2021-22 season.
The multimillion-pound agreement with Sky Sports will see the broadcaster show the top tier of women’s football for the first time. The organisation has the right to show up to 44 matches, with a minimum of 35 being screened across Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Football, with some matches also shown simultaneously on Sky Sports Mix and Sky One.
The BBC have also made a commitment to showcase the league to even more viewers by showcasing 22 live games per season, with a minimum of 18 matches on mainstream, free-to-air channels, BBC One and BBC Two. Previously, games have been shown live on BBC iPlayer and Red Button.
The agreements with both broadcasters will run until the summer of 2024.
This is the first time that 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 the income will also be distributed to clubs in the FA Women’s Championship to aid their development.
This partnership is a landmark moment for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, with more visibility than ever before, and the agreement beginning just a year before the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championships are due to be hosted in England.
Kelly Simmons, FA director of the women’s professional game said: “We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports and to extend our relationship with the BBC as our domestic broadcast partners from the 2021-22 season in what is a game-changing agreement that will transform the WSL.
“Visibility and investment are such key factors in growing any women’s sport, and we are delighted that Sky Sports and the BBC have made a commitment to broadcast more live women’s football than we have ever seen before, while signifying its true value.
Kathryn Swarbrick, FA director of commercial and marketing, added: “We are absolutely thrilled to have secured this game-changing partnership with Sky Sports and the BBC that will support taking the women’s game to another level.
“Both broadcasters have a vision for women’s football that very much aligns with our own, and that was made clear during the tender process where they outlined some very exciting plans for showcasing the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. We are really looking forward to working with them.”
Dawn Airey, chair of the WSL and FA Women’s Championship board, said: “The board have set out an ambitious strategy to have the best professional women’s sports leagues in the world. We believe that having this new partnership with Sky Sports and the BBC will go a long way to helping us achieve that.”
Rob Webster, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “We are delighted to add the WSL to our expanding football portfolio. Our goal is to bring our customers more of what they love, and we are certain the league will be a success with our football-hungry viewers.
“We will be giving the WSL the full Sky Sports treatment with lengthy build-ups and reaction to all live matches, plus a daily narrative of the league across Sky Sports News and our digital platforms.
“We look forward to working with the FA and building a close partnership that helps grow the women's game now and for future generations. With the addition of the WSL, Sky Sports truly is the home of football.”
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “This is fantastic news for sports fans and for women’s football. 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.
"With UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 on the horizon, giving fans more opportunities to watch the Barclays FA Women’s Super League will build the excitement for a home tournament.”