A group of women’s sports leagues and properties has partnered with the coming Women’s Sports Network—a 24/7 streaming network from Fast Studios dedicated exclusively to women’s sports that makes its debut in June.
Content from Athletes Unlimited (a network of women’s sports leagues that includes softball, volleyball, lacrosse and basketball), the LPGA, U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the World Surf League (WSL) and the Women’s Football Alliance (a professional tackle-football league founded in 2009) will bolster the new network’s early programming.
Fast Studios, which launched in 2021, declined to comment on financial arrangements with partners, including payment of any rights fees. The network also declined to disclose its distribution plans or partners, but it did articulate streaming plans and additional syndication across other digital and social platforms.
Still missing from the lineup are some of the biggest players in the space—the WNBA, NWSL, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and U.S. Soccer, for example, as well as any NCAA programming—but the network hopes other properties will soon join, though finding available rights may prove difficult.
“Our goal is to invite and have all of the professional women’s leagues and federations come in and join, and we’re well on our way there,” Fast Studios CEO Stuart McLean said in a phone interview. “Our starting point, and we’ve done a lot of research on what’s happening with women’s sports fans, is with the whole story. They want to see what’s happening on the field; they also want to know what’s going on with the players off the field as well. So the programming that we’re bringing to market covers both.”
The partnerships include access to some live game rights as well as archived games that will be “refreshed and reformatted to really give a look into the players’ world,” said McLean. The goal is to eventually assemble a broad collection of rights to live and delayed games as well as additional lifestyle content to power the 24/7 network across all streaming TV platforms, aggregating women’s sports into a singular streaming hub in a way that hasn’t yet been done.
“Fast offers an accessible option for fans to stream Athletes Unlimited content and generate increased visibility for our leagues and women’s sports as a whole,” Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited, said in a statement.
For now, the WSN is working within the rights that are available for each entity. Plans for docuseries and original content are also in place, as are those for the network’s flagship Sports Center-style female-hosted women’s sports news and highlights show, Game On: Women’s Sports Daily. The Women’s Sports Network’s launch will be a rolling one, starting with Game On in June.
Sports and entertainment agency Octagon will also provide social content for the new network using its roster of female athletes, including Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman and Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith. Adventure and action sports company Quattro Media is also among Fast’s partners.
The free, ad-supported model demands substantial sponsorship backing, which McLean said Fast is currently working to solidify. The network’s target audience—18-to-44-year-old fans of women’s sports—is an attractive demographic for advertisers, a group comprised heavily of early tech adopters and viewers not tied to one method of sports consumption. Fans of women’s sports have long had no choice but to use varied and emerging means to follow the action given the lack of consistency in television distribution.
Even with what McLean described as “very strong interest” from brands, launching the network is a substantial undertaking—one that is backed by Fast board members and lead investors Rocco Benetton (Italian entrepreneur and the former CEO of championship-winning Formula One Team Benetton) and Alex Ramlie (CEO of PT Amman Mineral Internasional and a private equity veteran).
Fast declined to disclose how much it has raised to date, but considering the challenges and costs of running a network, it will likely need significant and ongoing funding.