The NWSL unveiled its new 2024 season framework, featuring a 190-match schedule, an expanded playoff and a restructured NWSL Challenge Cup format. The 2024 season also heralds a new era with the initiation of a significant four-year domestic media rights agreement, ensuring that 118 women's soccer matches are showcased on national platforms.
“The 2024 season marks the start of an exciting new chapter for the NWSL and one that will set the tone for the future of our sport in the U.S. and globally,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman stated in a press release from the league. “Women’s soccer shined on an international stage in 2023 and as attendance, viewership and investment figures continue to explode, our league has never been better positioned to capitalize on the momentum the game is experiencing. Underscored by the addition of our 13th and 14th franchises, an enhanced match calendar and, critically, groundbreaking media rights agreements that will ensure our games are readily accessible to more fans than ever before, the 2024 campaign represents a new era for the NWSL as we continue our efforts to deliver the best product in professional soccer.”
The league's preseason camps are set to commence between Jan. 22 and 29, as per CBA and NWSL rules. The revamped NWSL Challenge Cup, debuting in 2024, introduces a single contest to open each season. It will pit the previous year's NWSL Shield winner against the reigning NWSL Champion. The 2024 edition will feature defending champions NJ/NY Gotham FC and San Diego Wave FC, the 2023 NWSL Shield winners. This match is scheduled for March 15.
2024 NWSL regular season is ‘carefully structured'
The regular season, a 26-match schedule over 25 weeks for each team, has been carefully structured to avoid clashes with FIFA windows, allowing flexibility for players with both club and international duties. Notably, the league will pause from July 15 to Aug. 18 during the Paris 2024 Olympics. However, during this hiatus, the NWSL will host an international tournament featuring all 14 clubs, with details to be announced later.
The enhanced playoff format now admits eight teams, eliminating byes to the semifinals. This format includes four quarterfinal matches starting the weekend of November 9-10, followed by semifinals on November 16-17, culminating in the NWSL Championship on November 23.
In terms of media coverage, the 2024 season will see an extensive distribution of matches across various platforms. Prime Video will broadcast Friday night matches, while Saturday nights will feature double-headers on Scripps’ ION network. The CBS Television Network and Paramount+ will also air regular season matches, with additional coverage on CBS Sports Network. ESPN will broadcast a selection of matches across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, with all matches streamed live on ESPN+ in English and Spanish.
The remainder of the NWSL regular-season schedule will be part of a domestic direct-to-consumer package produced and distributed by the NWSL. In addition to Prime Video's playoff coverage, CBS and Paramount+ will broadcast one quarterfinal and one semifinal, while ESPN/ABC will air two quarterfinal matches and one semifinal contest. For the third consecutive season, the NWSL Championship will air in primetime on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+.
The full league schedule and broadcast details will be released at a later date, but the 2024 competition calendar is already available. This revamp signals a promising future for the NWSL, as it continues to elevate women's soccer to new heights.