Earlier this summer, CBS announced that the NWSL Championship game would be airing in primetime on Saturday, October 29th, an aggressive shift from its previous timeslot at noon ET last season.
Additionally, the game was the most-watched soccer match (in English, at least) on any network this week, which includes a pair of MLS Cup Semifinals and half a dozen Premier League matches (featuring Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool, among others).
While this is a positive development for the NWSL, did it pay off for CBS? Following the SEC on CBS, the network typically airs encores of its midweek dramas on Saturday nights. The week before the NWSL, the 8 PM encore slot averaged 1.401 million viewers. The week before that, 2.864 million tuned in to the first hour and 2.311 million tuned in for the second hour.
And while the NWSL is live sports content, which so many outlets lust for, that dropoff is stark. If those live sports events are getting outdrawn in the same window in different weeks by reruns, it’s reasonable to wonder what needs to be done to close, or eliminate, that gap.
For the NWSL, the move into primetime on CBS was a win. For CBS, it’s a lot more complicated.