Megan Rapinoe’s regular season farewell to OL Reign fans drew a near-record audience for the league.
Per Austin Karp of the Sports Business Journal, Rapinoe’s farewell averaged 683,000 viewers on CBS this past Friday. That’s the second most-watched NWSL match ever, and the most-watched regular season match.
The final regular-season match for @mPinoe on Friday night (@OLReign vs. @WashSpirit) drew 683,000 viewers on CBS, marking an @NWSL regular-season record, as well as the league's 2nd-best audience match audience ever for the league. pic.twitter.com/ESZzCrrPFj
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) October 10, 2023
Back in August, the NWSL announced that the match would be moving to a Friday primetime slot.
The record for an NWSL match came last year for the Portland-Kansas City championship game, airing in a Saturday primetime slot on CBS.
While the match drew strong viewership compared to other soccer matches (it outdrew all four Premier League matches that aired across NBC and USA Saturday and Sunday), it finished third overall among live sporting events on Friday night. ESPN’s broadcast of Kansas State-Oklahoma State averaged 2.266 million viewers, while FS1’s broadcast of Nebraska-Illinois averaged 1.359 million. Both comfortably dwarfed the NWSL match, which had the advantage of airing on broadcast television rather than cable.
While the NWSL’s next round of media rights deals has yet to be announced, the league has reportedly struck agreements with Amazon, CBS, ESPN, and Scripps Sports which would begin with the 2024 season.
[Data via Sports Media Watch]