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Volume 26 No. 207
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NWSL Poised To Capitalize On World Cup With Budweiser Deal

Budweiser has signed on as the first official beer sponsor of the NWSL as part of a "major multi-year partnership" that also includes "naming rights to the playoffs, the championship, and the MVP trophy," according to Megan Linehan of THE ATHLETIC. No financials were disclosed and the specifics of the deal are "still a little light beyond those naming rights." But the sponsorship will also "include a 'Most Valuable Supporter' award, plus an off-season educational program for NWSL players who are interested in the business side of sports." The NWSL had "created their commercial and marketing arm, NWSL Media, specifically to break away from U.S. Soccer and SUM to try and maximize the league's value in potential sponsorships." SUM sold and negotiated the agreement with Budweiser on behalf of the NWSL, and the deal is a "win for the NWSL, no matter how it was negotiated." There is "finally the recognition from a major brand that there is value in women's soccer beyond the national team." It is an "incredibly positive sign that the NWSL has a sponsor that is targeted at marketing to adults for an adult experience at a NWSL match, compared to the more traditional 'kids and families' approach." The NWSL is "still the best league on the field (for now), but was forced to watch as American companies like Visa signed up to sponsor foreign women's soccer leagues." With the Budweiser deal, the league "finally has a new foothold into the marketplace" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/7).

NO SMALL DEAL: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes the "mere embrace" of the NWSL by the "biggest brand in sports marketing is overwhelmingly significant." Coming in the wake of the NWSL-ESPN media deal, A-B InBev's decision to come on board "signaled what may very well be a new dawn for the NWSL." This is the NWSL's "moment." Whether it has the "ownership, management and vision to capitalize remains to be seen, but the opportunity has never been as ripe." DeCock: "If you can entice Budweiser and ESPN to your side, the rest of America is at your service." It is "up to the NWSL to put this gilt-edged chance away" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/8).

HOPING FOR A KICK-START: NWSL Portland Thorns and USWNT MF Lindsey Horan "hopes the league experiences a World Cup bump." She would "like the league to see the success of the Thorns, who average crowds of around 17,000 a game." Horan: "Hopefully it grows, hopefully we get more teams, and more people buy into us and realize how important it is for the women's game -- and that our NWSL gets better and better so we can get better for our national team." Horan also would "like to see women's soccer lifted globally in the wake of the World Cup." Horan: "Hopefully everybody sees this around the world and everyone sees what the women's game is turning into and how much exposure we're getting" (AP, 7/5).