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Broadcasters Brace For Women’s Sports Media Rights Fees To Skyrocket

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is coming up this summer, and it’s believed that the media rights for the tournament will be worth north of $300 million.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Some of the top women’s professional sports leagues and events in the country will soon be back at the negotiating table with TV networks over media rights, and it’s looking like the next few years will begin a new lucrative era according to The Wall Street Journal.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is coming up this summer, and it’s believed that the media rights for the tournament will be worth north of $300 million. This is the first time FIFA has sold the rights to the women’s tournament, as previously the TV rights to the Women’s World Cup were looped into deals for the men’s World Cup. Over 1 billion watched the final of the 2019 World Cup.

That $300 million figure would make the Women’s World Cup the most valuable women’s sporting event in the world.

The NCAA Women’s Tournament has seen a steady increase in viewership and attention in recent years leading to record viewership in 2023. If rights to that tournament were sold standalone when ESPN’s current deal with the NCAA is up in 2025, the value is expected to range from $81 million to $112 million a year.

ESPN’s current deal with the NCAA covers all Division I national championships aside from men’s basketball is $34 million annually.

The WNBA is primed to garner close to $100 million a year in its next media rights deal. Presently, the league only draws $35 million each season under its agreement with ESPN.

The media rights deal in the WNBA is up in 2025.

The NWSL is anticipating reaching an agreement on a new media rights deal this summer. The league has a contract with CBS, and that’s in its final year. The deal is valued at around $1.5 million.

But the belief is that backing from investment firm Sixth Street Partners, plans to expand in 2024 and a growing interest in women’s soccer will help make for a better deal moving forward.

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Howie Schwab, Longtime ESPN Producer and Feature of ‘Stump the Schwab’, Dies

Many former ESPN colleagues, and those in the sports media at large, paid homage to Schwab’s memory after the announcement of his passing.

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A photo of Howie Schwab
(Photo: ESPN)

Longtime ESPN researcher and feature of the mid-2000s ESPN game show Stump the Schwab Howie Schwab has died.

Schwab joined ESPN in 1987 after serving as the editor-in-chief of College & Pro Football News Weekly. He then worked as a producer for ESPN.com before joining ESPN’s studio production team, working on shows like Outside the Lines and SportsCenter.

In 2004, ESPN launched a sports trivia game show — Stump the Schwab — hosted by Stuart Scott, which pitted contestants against Schwab in a test of sports knowledge. The program ran for four seasons, featuring 80 episodes in total, before ending in 2006.

Howie Schwab was part of widespread layoffs at ESPN in 2013. He then worked on Sports Jeopardy! alongside Dan Patrick as a writer beginning in 2014, and also briefly spent time at FOX Sports after his departure from ESPN.

Many former ESPN colleagues, and those in the sports media at large, paid homage to Schwab’s memory after the announcement of his passing.

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Report: ESPN Seems Likely to Renew NFL Draft Media Rights

ESPN has been broadcasting the NFL Draft since 1980.

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ESPN Logo, ESPN NFL Studio Bristol Headquarters

ESPN has been the broadcast home of the NFL Draft since 1980, and the property has become one of the network’s hallmark events within its overall coverage of the National Football League. Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. will return on the airwaves this year for the broadcast of the event, which will include separate feeds on ABC and ESPN on Thursday night.

ESPN has had the rights to the event for several years and attained improvements in ratings with an average of approximately 9.73 million viewers across networks on Day 1 last year. As a whole, the NFL Draft attained a total, unduplicated audience of 54.4 million viewers over the course of the three days on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network and additional digital platforms, and will make its return next Wednesday from Detroit, Mich.

John Ourand of Puck News reported that the deal for ESPN to broadcast the NFL Draft will expire in 2025. Within his report, he noted that ESPN is likely to renew its deal with the league, but other media companies could be interested in exploring potentially assuming the property. Some of the companies Ourand includes within his report are FOX, NBC and perhaps Amazon.

ESPN announced its plans for coverage of the 2024 NFL Draft earlier in the week, which will include two broadcasts on ESPN and ABC for the first two days. This year’s draft class contains several top-tier college quarterbacks who will be looking to make an impact at the NFL level, including USC star Caleb Williams. The Chicago Bears hold the first-overall pick for the 2024 NFL Draft and are projected by several insiders to select Williams after trading away quarterback Justin Fields earlier in the offseason.

ESPN and NFL Network will bring back a crossover element to the NFL Draft broadcast this year, something that both entities collaborated on in 2020 and 2023. On Tuesday, April 16, Kiper Jr. will appear on NFL Network for NFL Total Access. ESPN NFL insider Field Yates will appear on NFL Network Wednesday, April 17 for Path to the Draft while NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr. appears on SportsCenter. Both programs will last from 6 to 7 p.m. EST on their respective networks. Mina Kimes will appear on Move the Sticks Thursday, April 18 on NFL Network, while Kurt Warner and Daniel Jeremiah will be on Get Up and NFL Live, respectively, the following day.

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NBA TV Announces Playoff Coverage, Gus Johnson to Call Game 2 of Pacers-Bucks

Coverage of games throughout the NBA Playoffs on NBA TV will include pregame, halftime and studio coverage as well.

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NBA TV Logo
(Illustration) Courtesy: National Basketball Association, Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery has announced coverage plans for the first round of the National Basketball Association Playoffs on NBA TV, which includes back-to-back nights of live game broadcasts beginning on Monday, April 22. The Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers will face off from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio featuring play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro, analyst Brendan Haywood and sideline reporter Lauren Jbara. This will mark Jbara’s playoff debut with NBA TV, which comes after officially joining TNT Sports last fall. Calabro, Haywood and Jbara will also return on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. EST for Game 3 between the Magic and Cavaliers from Kia Center in Orlando, Fla.

The second game of the series between the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks will be presented on NBA TV at 8:30 p.m. EST and features the return of Gus Johnson behind the microphone for playoff action. Johnson, who serves as the lead play-by-play voice for college football and college basketball coverage for FOX Sports, will work with Jim Jackson and Dennis Scott on the call from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Over the course of the 2023-24 NBA season, Johnson filled in on select New York Knicks game telecasts on MSG Networks, where he previously served as an announcer and studio host for 16 years. Coverage of games throughout the NBA Playoffs on NBA TV will include pregame, halftime and studio coverage as well.

NBA TV could televise up to nine games throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs depending on the outcomes of the individual series. Star players such as Paolo Banchero, Damian Lillard, Tyrese Haliburton and Donovan Mitchell are expected to participate across the matchups. The league-owned broadcast entity jointly managed by the NBA and Warner Bros. Discovery is coming off its most-viewed season since 2015-16.

TNT Sports will also present playoff games on TNT and available to stream utilizing the B/R Sports Add-On through Max. Coverage will conclude with the Western Conference Finals with a spot to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the balance.

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