On June 5th I took a look at the performance of the National Women's Soccer League up to the point in regards to attendance. They matched up pretty evenly with the now defunct WPS and their inaugural season looked to be moderately successful up to that point. You can look at that article as a point of reference here.
Now that the 2013 season is over we can take a look at the year as a whole and use it as a comparison to the failed leagues from the past.
Attendance slightly increased in the second half of the season. At the midway point, the average attendance at a match was 4,238. Respectable, but the average was thrown off by the outlier in Portland. The Thorns average over 13,000 a game and severely threw off the curve. Without Portland's contributions, the average league attendance was 2,873.
Quite a difference.
At the end of the year average attendance had risen to 4,271 and to 2,978 without Portland's numbers. The attendance overall finished a few hundred people short of the 2009 WPS season but finished above the other two seasons. You can check out the graph below for more exact figures.
The league finished strong in the playoffs, drawing 20,461 total people for the three games. That's good for an average of 6,820 people watching the inaugural playoffs. More impressively is it beat the WPS' playoff averages in all three seasons by more than a thousand people. More than 9,000 people attended the Final between Western New York and Portland in Rochester.
Based on the increased attendance in the second half and the playoff numbers, the NWSL looks to have more potential than its predecessors. More people are going out and attending games, especially the games that matter.
There are still some problems with the league and some of the stadiums. Chicago still plays nearly an hour outside the city via public transportation. Sky Blue FC is not easily accessible from New York City. These are markets that can draw a crowd if they are put into a convenient place.
Here is the final regular season attendance averages for all eight teams, via Equalizer Soccer.
Next year will be a telling season for the NWSL. If they can build upon the inaugural season and continue to use free live streams as well as Fox Sports TV contracts to get the word out then they will have the opportunity to be a successful league in the future.