Women's soccer saw massive TV ratings boost amid COVID-19

The sports calendar may have been extremely strange this year, but the National Women’s Soccer League made it work to their advantage.

The league — the highest tier of women’s soccer in the United States — saw its domestic television audience grow by nearly 500 percent this year, according to Sports Pro Media.

NWSL deal with CBS averaged more than 383,000 viewers per game

The NWSL struck a deal with CBS for its Challenge Cup earlier this year, which had all 23 games broadcasted on CBS All Access — the network’s new streaming service. One game each week of the fall series aired live on CBS or the CBS Sports Network, too.

The league’s Challenge Cup — a league-wide tournament held in Utah in June, which was one of the first sports to return after a nearly worldwide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic — had a record 653,000 viewers watch the championship match. The fall series averaged about 383,000 viewers per game, too.

Before the Challenge Cup, the league’s average viewership record was about 190,000 people from 2014, per Front Office Sports.

The league saw social media mentions jump by 152 percent compared to last year, too, and overall coverage jump by 55 percent, per the report.

Though television ratings across other major professional sports are down for a number of reasons — the NBA Finals were down 48 percent from last year, and two World Series games last week set back-to-back low viewership records — the NWSL appears to be growing, and fast.

A detailed view of a 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup logo
The NWSL saw it's TV audience grow by nearly 500 percent this year. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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