Following the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a big question surrounding professional women’s soccer is whether fans and brands will continue to show support. The reliable post-event attendance bump has occurred for several NWSL teams (Houston, Chicago, Portland), but the brand support for the league is worth a closer look. In the past week, both Budweiser and ESPN pledged their support to keep the attention on women’s soccer.
ESPN adds NWSL to sports lineup
In addition to other soccer coverage already on the ESPN family of networks, the worldwide leader in sports has added 14 games through the remainder of the NWSL season. ESPN2 and ESPNEWS will air one game a week through October 27th with several familiar names in the broadcast booth. Viewers will hear analysis from Aly Wager, Jenn Hildreth, Angela Hucles, Glenn Davis, Marissa Pilla, and Dalen Cuff.
The national coverage is vitally important for NWSL, as they’ve shifted from YouTube to Lifetime in recent years. ESPN gives the league a larger platform wth whom sports fans are familiar.
Budweiser signs sponsorship deal
Beyond media coverage, NWSL has gained sponsor support from Budweiser after the Anheuser-Busch InBev beer signed a multi-year deal. Budweiser has long been a supporter of soccer in the U.S., but as the company noted, there is so much more they can do beyond support of the U.S. Women’s National Team. The opportunity is there for Budweiser to support women’s soccer daily.
Financial terms of the deal were not released, however, Budweiser will have naming rights to the NWSL playoffs, the championship game, and the MVP trophy. Off the field, Budweiser’s executives will collaborate with the league’s players in an offseason sports business training program.
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) July 7, 2019
Budweiser #WontStopWatching – will fans follow suit?
As part of Budweiser’s announcement, they built a social campaign around the #WontStopWatching hashtag. It’s a simple statement that shows Budweiser is committed to continued support of women’s soccer and its players – many of whom featured in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. While Budweiser has pledged their continued support, the question is whether or not fans will continue to support their local NWSL team or watch the weekly game on ESPN. That remains to be seen; however, Budweiser and ESPN supporting NWSL is great step in the right direction.
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) July 12, 2019