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Fox Sports to carry NWSL matches in 2016

A small but positive step for NWSL, Fox Sports will carry games for the second straight year.

HAO celebrates the championship
HAO celebrates the championship
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and FOX Sports announced a one-year agreement to broadcast six NWSL games in 2016. This is the second season that Fox Sports carried some NWSL matches. There will be three regular season and the three playoff matches aired on FS1. All six games will also stream live on FOX Soccer 2Go, FOX Sports GO and FOXSportsGO.com.

"We are very pleased to once again partner with FOX Sports, who continue to demonstrate their outstanding support of our league and women's soccer," NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said via press release. "It is extremely important for the development of the league for our fans to have access to games on national television, especially our playoffs and championship match."

Date

Home Team

Away Team

Time (ET)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Chicago Red Stars

FC Kansas City

8:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Portland Thorns FC

Western New York Flash

9:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Houston Dash

Seattle Reign FC

9:30 p.m.

TBD

Semifinal 1

TBD

Semifinal 2

TBD

Final

They chose to start broadcasting matches after the 2016 Rio Olympics as the teams work to finalize playoff spots and hopefully building off another strong showing by the U.S. women.

"We are thrilled to embark on our second year of NWSL coverage, following an incredible FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015," said David Nathanson, FOX Sports' Head of Business Operations. "This partnership showcases our continuing support of women's soccer and the sport's top players."

The first match features two-time defending champions FC Kansas City at Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The Blues defeated the Red Stars in a semifinal match on their way to the championship.

A positive step

Jonathan Tannenwald is reporting that Fox Sports is picking up the tab for the broadcasts and NWSL is not paying Fox to televise the matches. It sounds like Fox Sports wants to broadcast the matches but not take a large financial risk while doing so.

This may not seem like a big deal but it is a good step for NWSL. A channel wants to carry games on their own initiative and incur the cost to do so. The league is not buying the time. It's a step, not a huge step but a step nevertheless towards being paid for allowing a network to carry the games.

More TV?

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush leaked the Fox deal would be announced during the pre-season press conference with media this week.  Plush also hinted that it may not be the only distribution deal this season.

"We're always in conversations and are always looking for ways to get our product more broadly distributed," Plush stated. "Whether that's through linear or over the top strategies there are a handful of different conversations that we're engaged in."

Streaming

The NWSL still plans to stream matches that are not nationally broadcast through YouTube and links for this weekend's matches are already showing up on the http://nwslsoccer.com/schedule/2016-schedule .