The NWSL will begin the process of expanding to a 16th team, Commissioner Jessica Berman said on Friday, as the top-flight North American league looks to build with a landmark new broadcast deal in place.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) previously announced it will welcome a 13th and 14th club next year, the San Jose-based Bay FC and the Utah Royals, and a Boston-based team is expected to join beginning in 2026.
The league welcomed two other teams, Los Angeles’ Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC, in 2022.
“Our preliminary analysis of the landscape is that we have more than a dozen qualified investor groups from different markets around the U.S. who are extremely interested in the kinds of investment that we know is required in order to operationalize a successful team,” said Berman.
The remarks came a day after the NWSL announced a four-year media deal with ESPN, CBS, Prime Sports and Scripps’ ION network worth a reported record $60 million annually.
The league said the multi-broadcaster agreement marked the “largest media investment in women’s sports history.”
“We know that this is a moment not to be complacent,” Berman told reporters.
“It’s a moment to invest for the future. It’s a moment that we don’t take for granted. We believe we have an unprecedented opportunity to grow this league and to build for the future.”
Berman said that viewership on the CBS network was up 41% year-over-year this season while streaming on Paramount+ climbed 83 per cent.
The NWSL season wraps up on Saturday with a championship match between the Seattle-based OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium.
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