The National Women’s Soccer League has hired former Learfield IMG College executive Mitch Poll as its chief revenue officer. Poll will lead the NWSL’s commercial sales and partnership marketing efforts, building on the momentum the league managed to rally in 2020.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Mitch to the NWSL at an incredibly exciting time for our league,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a release. “As we look to build upon our success this year, Mitch will help us continue to add value for our current partners, and importantly, help us attract new ones. We’re bullish on growth and this addition makes sure we have the team in place to deliver on that vision.”
The league’s 2020 commercial growth included the addition of new broadcast distribution partners and a series of corporate sponsors. Procter & Gamble, its women’s deodorant brand Secret and telecommunications provider Verizon inked deals with the NWSL in May. Google signed on in late June, rounding out the growing group. The brands joined existing partner Budweiser, which kicked off the expansion of the sponsorship roster when it came on board in 2019. Nike, supplements brand Thorne and an e-commerce partner in Legends were among the league’s small existing list of supporters.
Between the Challenge Cup tournament that took place over the summer and the league’s regional Fall Series slate, the NWSL’s domestic television audience grew by nearly 500% this year, with additional international audience development on Twitch. The Amazon-owned streaming platform joined CBS Sports as a new distribution partner for the league in a deal struck this spring prior to the pandemic. Delivering an audience of scale to the league’s new corporate partners was an important goal this season, particularly as it, along with the other major sports leagues, adjusted to holding competitions without live attendance.
“The NWSL has proven in 2020 that a global audience is passionate about the league, its teams and players,” said Poll. Prior to serving as Learfield’s vice president of national marketing solutions, Poll spent time at both the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the NFL. “I’m excited to join an incredibly talented team at the NWSL, continue to build on this year’s success, and deliver for our partners the most compelling value-proposition in sports.”
Poll will oversee all of the aforementioned areas of the NWSL’s commercial revenue and partnership efforts. Sponsorship, licensing and media will fall under his domain, as he also works with the league’s newly established Commercial Committee. Committee members and the clubs’ chief business officers are focused on building out club services and generating new NWSL programs for fan and brand building.
Baird has previously spoken about carrying and capitalizing on the momentum of this year before next season. With a focus on renewing current partnerships and seeking new ones before the 2021 season, which will include a new expansion team in Louisville, Poll has plenty of work ahead of him.