Barclays Women's Super League (WSL)
Credit: Jason Ilagan, Shutterstock

The Women’s Super League (WSL) is set for a significant boost over the coming years according to two separate reports by The Telegraph. The league has apparently renewed its biggest media deals whilst also securing a record sponsorship.

BBC and Sky score renewal

The WSL’s primary broadcasting partners are Sky Sports and the BBC. The league first partnered with the two broadcasters, one public service and the other subscription-based, back in 2021.

Under the three-year deal the WSL receives fees of £8m per year with each broadcaster covering 35 matches per season. The duo were facing competition when the WSL rights went to tender late last year, however. 

TNT Sports – the rebranded outlet formerly operating as BT Sport and a key player in the UK sports broadcasting space – was circling the league rights, as was OTT streaming service DAZN, which has been seeking to expand the scope of its sports coverage in the UK.

Credit: Tess Derry/EMPICS Sport

According to the Telegraph, the BBC and Sky have seen off the competition to resecure the rights, although this has not been confirmed by the WSL and so it is unclear how much money the league will get from such a deal.

Regardless, this is a positive development for all three parties involved. For the WSL, having a combined mix of free-to-air coverage and paid subscription coverage can guarantee continued exposure whilst also bringing in money as women’s football continues to grow.

For the BBC and Sky retaining the rights is a valuable investment in the context of this continuing growth. Women’s football viewing and attendance figures have been skyrocketing in recent years, driven heavily by popular international tournaments such as the Euros and World Cup.

The Euro 2022 final between England and Germany drew a crowd of 87,192 at London’s Wembley Stadium, whilst Arsenal are the domestic side smashing records. The North London team recorded the highest attendance for both a Women’s Champions League and WSL match, at 60,063 and 60,160 respectively.

Barclays banking on WSL

The growing audiences for women’s football have not gone unnoticed by prospective commercial partners either. As well as renewing its media deals, the WSL has also renewed its long-standing partnership with Barclays, according to the Telegraph.

Barclays, one of the UK’s biggest banks, is a long-term partner of the WSL and football in general. The bank was notable for being a title sponsor of the Premier League, and first partnered with the WSL back in 2019.

This relationship was renewed in 2021 and according to the Telegraph has now been renewed again for a record sponsorship fee of £9m per season in a three-year arrangement.

As part of its partnership with the FA back in 2021 Barclays also announced investment of £30m in women’s and girl’s football. This three-year deal will run until the end of the 2024-25 season, but if the Telegraph’s reports are confirmed Barclays will continue working with the WSL beyond this.

Credit: Federico Guerra Moran, Shutterstock

The bank’s investments in and partnerships with women’s football are indicative of the commercial potential of the game being more widely recognised. Women’s football is by far the most searched women’s sport in Europe, for example.

A report released last month by SponsorUnited found that Chelsea Women, Manchester City Women, Arsenal Women, Real Madrid CF Women and West Ham United Women were the most searched women’s teams in Europe last year.

The WSL’s sponsorship value is rising in line with this, having increased 11% last year. With the league’s media visibility for the next three-years now secured and with attendances continuing to rise, it is highly likely that this sponsorship value will likewise continue to rise.

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