The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) offseason is just beginning but next year is already on the horizon. On December 7, just one month after the NWSL championship, the league announced the schedule footprint.
“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,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman.
The season will feature a 190-match schedule with the regular season campaign beginning on March 16, 2024. With a new CBA that the players fought for, two new teams, and it being an Olympic year, the calendar looks a little different than before. Here are the key dates you will need to know.
Pre-Season: January 22-January 29
Per the NWSL and CBA rules, pre-season can be held by clubs no earlier than January 22 but no later than January 29. This will be the first opportunity that draftees, non-roster invitees, and potentially free agents will get to work their way onto a team.
Challenge Cup: March 15
As opposed to how the Challenge Cup has been showcased the last three seasons, it will now be one singular game. The game will kick off the season with a match between the previous season's Shield Winner and Champions. Per the NWSL, if the Shield winner and Champion are the same, the game will feature a rematch of the Championship match.
Gotham FC will battle the San Diego Wave on Friday, March 15, for the first iteration of this Challenge Cup. The match will stream live on Prime Video with a time to still be announced.
Regular Season Start: March 16
While the full regular season schedule has yet to be announced, it is set to begin Saturday, March 16. The season will feature 182 matches which will be played over 25 weeks. Each team will host 13 games at home and hit the road for 13 in the 26-game season.
Per the NWSL, "The schedule has been formatted to avoid staging NWSL matches during FIFA windows and maintain flexibility for the league’s top players as they compete with both club and country."
NWSL Break: July 8-August 18
Through the NWSL CBA, a mandated week-long break is required from July 8 to July 14. Following that break, the NWSL regular season will remain on pause from July 15 to August 18 due to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
However, a tournament beginning the weekend of July 19 will help fill in the gap of play. The tournament is still being organized but will feature international talent as well as all 14 NWSL teams.
NWSL Playoffs: November 9-10 and November 16-17
In a new expanded playoff format, eight teams will feature in the NWSL quarterfinals for the first time. There will be four quarterfinal matches, with no teams receiving a bye to the semi-finals.
Amazon Prime is slated to host playoff coverage but CBS and Paramount+ will also have rights to one quarterfinal and one semifinal. ESPN/ABC are set to air two quarterfinal matches and one semifinal contest.
The quarterfinal will take place November 9-10 while the semi-finals will take place November 16-17.
NWSL Championship: November 23
The NWSL Championship is set for November 23, but the week leading up will surely feature a slew of activities. No location has been announced yet for the third-straight season it will air in primetime on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+.
Where to Watch:
The NWSL announced back in November their new landmark four-year domestic media deal. Games will be accessible on four different platforms with each platform receiving a specific day and amount of games.
Beginning next season, 118 matches will be distributed across the following partner platforms:
The NWSL will begin each regular-season weekend with Friday night matches on Prime Video.
Each Saturday night that follows will include a double-header on Scripps’-owned ION network, available over-the-air in 123 million homes.
A package of regular season matches will air on the CBS Television Network and stream live on Paramount+, with additional matches airing on CBS Sports Network.
ESPN will air a package of matches across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes (Spanish). All NWSL matches on ESPN platforms and on ABC will stream live on ESPN+ in English and Spanish. The package also includes English, Spanish and Portuguese-language rights in Latin America.
“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," added Berman. "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 2024 NWSL season is bound to be an exciting one. With new signings, free agents moving, international talent, and a rookie class that will no doubt be strong there is so much to look forward to.