WOMEN'S FOOTBALL SET FOR BROADCAST BONANZA
With the Women’s Super League (WSL) continually growing in stature with England, there has always been a sense that something has been missing. Something that comes in the shape of a broadcast deal to truly support the league.
That’s not to say that the current broadcasting package has failed to provide the competition with an incredible platform to build on, it’s just that very exposure perhaps needs to be bigger and with the WSL making a recent announcement, it looks as if the league has finally got its wish.
It has been known for a while now, that Sky Sports will be taking on the pay-tv baton from next season and with the sizeable marketing machine of the satellite juggernaut behind it, its exposure should only grow further over the next couple of years.
However, one must remember that whether it be BT Sport or Sky Sports that show the competition, it is ultimately still stuck behind a paywall and although live football is a subscription driver, everybody is suffering some form of financial strain.
A strain which means that although Sky will use every inch of their marketing power to get eyes on the product, the thought of having to find the money for another potential subscription package, may end up being one too many to bare.
Which means Sky would obviously need a broadcast partner and although the BBC have played that role to BT in the past and still do at present, WSL fixtures have usually been the preserve of something you would find hidden behind the Red Button.
That is until the start of next season and with 18 matches per season being shown on either BBC One or BBC Two (with the other four of their new deal staying on the Red Button), it means a whole feast of terrestrial coverage for the women’s game in England.
Sky themselves will be given up to 44 live matches per season and even though the BBC is only receiving one-third of the allotted matches per league campaign, it would be unfair to consider them a junior partner in all of this.
With terrestrial access on the agenda, it will arguably break down one of the final walls that stand in the way of mainstream acceptance for the women’s game and most importantly, it will not price out the next generation of supporters either.
Of course, it would be unfair to say that it is only going to mould the next generation of female supporters and with it being readily available on a weekly basis, who is to say that a legion of male fans will not jump on board either.
With the BBC losing so many men’s football contracts over the past two decades or so, it is doing its best to redress the balance and although there will always be that vocal minority who voice their displeasure at more female coverage, they are going to have to get used to one thing.
That is the simple fact, that the WSL is not going away and when you consider the sponsorship deals that tie-in with those new broadcasting contracts, then the league is only going to go from strength to strength from here on in.