NWSL Media-Rights Talks Will Serve As Gauge For Network Interest
Octagon's deal to sell media rights to the NWSL is interesting on a number of levels, as negotiations will serve as a gauge for the appetite TV networks have for professional women's soccer. The games don't bring in big ratings, but the momentum from the Women's World Cup and the appearance of star players should help. Octagon has carved out a niche operating internationally. It will be interesting to see if this deal will help it get more of a foothold in the U.S. (John Ourand, SBJ Media). THE ATHLETIC's Megan Linehan noted the "two key players" for Octagon will be Senior VPs Daniel Cohen and Christine Franklin. Cohen has "one major priority when considering what the league still needs from a media rights deal." He said, "It is a preference for us that there be at least a component of this that gets large reach and exposure. It's still a nascent league, so how do you build audience and fandom? How do you attract even more sponsors? You have to provide that bigger platform." Octagon is "already having conversations" with the league's '19 broadcast partner, ESPN, and those conversations have "raised the possibilities around adding the league to ESPN+." Cohen: "Some sort of blended, ESPN+ and ESPN and one of their networks, ABC, that's really where we want the conversation to go." Meanwhile, in addition to the formal search for a new commissioner, sources said that additional staffing will be a "priority this offseason." Adding a full-time marketing exec "would make sense to help support the Octagon partnership and the resulting initiatives" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/21).