BT Sport has announced a major commitment to women’s football in an exciting new broadcast partnership with the FA.
The telecoms giant has acquired exclusive rights to screen selected live FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) matches, currently broadcast on ESPN.
In addition, BT is to become one of the founding partners of a new commercial programme for women’s football from 2014 to 2018, which will see the company sponsor the England Women’s senior team and the FA Women’s Cup.
Following the successful launch of The FA WSL in 2011, the rise of the England Women’s team to seventh in the FIFA World Rankings and the unprecedented success of the London 2012 Olympics, women’s football is the largest growth area of the national game and is now the third biggest team sport in the country.
BT will play a pivotal role to support the FA in delivering its five-year strategic plan ‘Game Changer’, which aims to drive the game forward at every level.
Integral to this, is the development of the FA WSL and semi-professional women’s football.
The FA WSL will be expanding from 2014 to include 18 clubs competing across FAWSL1 and FAWSL2.
The new two-tier structure will allow for promotion and relegation between the leagues, which will improve league status and increase professionalism.
As an exclusive partner to The FA WSL, BT will have the opportunity to reach a broad and growing demographic, with a fan base and appeal that is increasing all the time.
With an integrated broadcast and marketing strategy, BT will be able to communicate with customers through a national programme with genuine local relevance and make a real and measurable difference to the progression of the sport.
Stuart Turner, commercial director at the Football Association said: “We are delighted to have such an established brand as BT associated with the women’s game.
“In BT we have the perfect partner to help take the game forward over the next four years, both as a new and innovative broadcast partner for The FA WSL in BT Sport, and a commercial partner supporting women’s football.
“We are very excited about working with them to continue increasing our levels of participation and to deliver a closer connection to our fans.”
Simon Green, head of BT Sport, added: “We are delighted to sign this partnership with The FA to develop women’s football and to build on the sport’s recent success.
“We are also really pleased that we’ll be broadcasting live matches from The FA WSL on ESPN and BT Sport, which we feel gives us some fantastic women’s sport throughout the summer, which is a major focus for us.”
BBC Sport will continue to provide free-to-air television coverage of key women’s football matches, including the FA Women’s Cup, England internatonals and this summer’s European Championships in Sweden.