BBC and Sky to show WSL next season but no new deal over league’s long term future

Everton's Clare Wheeler (left) and Liverpool's Ceri Holland – BBC and Sky to show WSL next season but no new deal over league's long term future
The current WSL rights deal with Sky Sports and the BBC is worth between £7 million and £8 million per year - PA/Jess Hornby

The BBC and Sky Sports will continue to broadcast live coverage of the Women’s Super League next season, Telegraph Sport can reveal, with the existing rights agreement set to be rolled over for another campaign.

According to multiple sources, the one-season extension is aimed at buying all parties more time to agree on a longer-term domestic television rights deal beyond 2025.

The WSL’s domestic TV rights went out to tender this winter, and it is understood the BBC, Sky, TNT Sports and streaming platform DAZN were all among those in contention but no fresh deal has been signed. With time running out before next season, a short-term solution has been reached instead.

The WSL declined to comment, when contacted by Telegraph Sport.

The running of the WSL and the Women’s Championship, the second tier, is being handed over to a ‘NewCo’ (new company) this summer, with former Nike director Nikki Doucet having been appointed as the chief executive.

Once that new entity is formally up and running and in control of the top two women’s leagues in England, it is hoped that a more lucrative deal can be agreed with broadcasters. Additionally, debate is still ongoing around the best time slots for women’s football to be broadcasted in.

Telegraph Sport revealed in February that WSL matches could be played on Friday nights and Saturday evenings in future as part of proposals set out in the packages broadcasters could bid for within the tender document. The majority of WSL matches have traditionally been played on Sundays to date.

The BBC and Sky Sports have shared the WSL’s domestic TV rights since signing a landmark three-year deal in 2021, which it is understood is worth between £7 million and £8 million per year. It was reported earlier this year that the NewCo were hoping for a deal of around £15 million to £20 million per season.

Meanwhile, Telegraph Sport exclusively reported on Wednesday that the WSL and Championship are on the verge of securing a record title sponsorship deal, with Barclays set to double its investment in the two leagues.

It is understood the bank will pay roughly £9 million per season for the new title sponsorship rights alone. That is around twice as much as was paid for the existing 2022-2025 arrangement.

Since the current rights deal began in 2021, viewing records have been smashed repeatedly for the WSL, with Sky Sports attracting a new paid-TV high for the league of a peak audience of 589,000 for March’s Manchester derby, which Manchester City won 3-1.

On free-to-air television on the BBC, in November, Chelsea’s 5-1 win over Liverpool drew in a peak audience of 955,000 viewers, as well as a further 141,000 requests to watch the game on BBC iPlayer, which overall saw a record average for the league across that game.

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