Just Women’s Sports has extended its media partnership with the NWSL for a second year, again securing the rights to distribute official league highlights across its social and digital platforms and agreeing to another year of championship activations as it looks to drive fan interest and engagement for the 11-year-old league.
The extension comes amid a social-first push as the league looks to cater to the younger segment of its growing fan base. Financial terms were not disclosed.
With a specific audience of “next-gen” fans, Just Women’s Sports founder and CEO Haley Rosen says her company is well-positioned to continue to introduce new fans to the NWSL. The rights also help Just Women’s Sports serve longtime supporters of the league by filling in coverage gaps. “We can really give them that drumbeat of coverage that we almost take for granted on the men’s side,” Rosen said.
“We’ve said this for a long time: What women’s sports need is energy and excitement and the distribution to get in front of more people,” she added. “I’m really excited that we are going to do that again [for the NWSL]. This year is about taking what we did last year and leveling it up [as] the league enters this new phase.”
The NWSL’s growth has been well documented. Last year’s title game, the league’s first in primetime on CBS, saw viewership jump 71% over 2021. This season’s opening weekend saw a record 90,000 fans at matches across the country—a 48% jump over 2022—and NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said earlier this month the league has seen a 20% spike in season ticket holders over last year.
Amid the growth, valuations have increased tenfold in recent years, with expansion fees jumping from between $2 million and $5 million to more than $50 million as the 12-team league prepares to add a trio of newcomers in Utah, the Bay Area and, eventually, Boston.
“Just Women’s Sports really indexes on the core fan as well as younger fans,” Julie Haddon, the league’s chief marketing officer, said. “When you look at the top two channels for sports consumptions amongst NWSL fans, ages 18-to-24, for example, about 46% is social. When you think about the growth and the interest in social-first content in all that we’re doing to distribute across traditional, linear, streaming and social, that dwarfs TV live. Just Women’s Sports gives us the ability to reach [those fans] that are consuming our product.”
Last season, Just Women’s Sports reached more than 30 million fans with NWSL content and highlights, generating more than 46 million impressions on social media and 5 million video views over the league’s championship weekend alone. As part of the partnership, the media platform will once again host a live championship pregame show, which aired on Paramount+ last year.
Just Women’s Sports will also throw the league’s officially sanctioned party during championship weekend leading up to the game as the NWSL surrounds its finale with what Haddon describes as Super Bowl-style events and activations. But in the months leading up to November’s championship match, Haddon says her focus is on “meeting our fans where they are, globally or domestically,” whether through the Just Women’s Sports extension or in the league’s next media deal.
“We’re doing more social-first content, more partnership, more streaming, we have a lot of interest from different media companies about our media deal going forward,” Haddon said. “Getting our product into as many hands, if you will, and places to consume our content is core to our growth strategy.”
Just Women’s Sports rights will not infringe on the women’s soccer league’s media rights agreements with other distribution partners. The goal is to drive more fans toward NWSL broadcasts, which are currently carried by CBS in the U.S. (The league also recently inked a pair of international streaming deals with DAZN and Tigo, and partnered with Endeavor Streaming to launch its own service for viewers outside of the U.S. that will stream all NWSL matches during the 2023 season free of charge. The NWSL is also in the middle of negotiating its next media rights deal; its agreement with CBS expires after this season.)
The content and championship activations, which brought in sponsors including Ally Financial, Boardroom and Nike in 2022, also present new revenue opportunities for Just Women’s Sports.
Last year, the platform raised $6 million in a round, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $10 million, led by Joe Tsai’s Blue Pool Capital. Other investors include David Blitzer, Billie Jean King, Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures and Drive by DraftKings. Allyson Felix, Abby Wambach, Paul Rabil and Apolo Ohno have also invested.