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NWSL ‘celebrates’ landmark media rights deal

The National Women’s Soccer League announced an historic new media rights deal on Thursday worth $240 million over four years in partnership with multiple media outlets.

The news comes two days before the NWSL championship match between Gotham FC and OL Reign, which will mark the career finale for US women’s soccer icon Megan Rapinoe and another USA star, Ali Krieger.

The Reign’s Rapinoe, winner of two World Cup titles with the United States and a fierce activist off the field, was a driving force of the US women’s successful fight with the US Soccer Federation for equal pay and conditions with the men’s squad.

Now she’ll head into retirement knowing the NWSL has inked the biggest media rights package ever for a North American women’s sports league — dwarfing the $1.5 million annually it received in its previous deal with broadcaster CBS.

“This moment is a celebration, a celebration of how far we’ve come and far we’re headed,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said at a press conference in San Diego, where the championship match will be played on Saturday.

Berman said the deal, which includes CBS, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps Sports, “sends a very strong message to the marketplace and to our fans that we are in a five-way partnership here.

“We are committed collectively to ensuring that this creates the opportunity that this league deserves to be in front of fans and to make sure our fans know where to watch.”

Under the agreement, the league’s media partners will collectively air 118 NWSL games starting in 2024 — when expansion clubs in Utah and the San Francisco Bay Area will join the league to take the total number of teams to 14.

“I want to commend CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps for investing in our league and affirmatively declaring to the marketplace that this league is exciting, valuable, and important,” Berman said in a statement. “This is the beginning of our future.”

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