Can the NWSL survive?

Noah Dillon

Matt Clark

Blog

The ABL and USFL both failed to compete against larger organizations but experienced their demise in completely different ways for completely different reasons.

 

The American Basketball League (ABL) was founded in 1996 just a few months before the WNBA opened its doors. It promised “real basketball” and grabbed the best female players the USA had to offer at the time. After researching about both the ABL and WNBA the answers for failure became clear. The ABL, although having arguably better talent, was flat out boring and lagged in both ratings and fan views compared to the WNBA. Soon ESPN featured the WNBA game of the week but didn’t even mention the ABL scores in daily highlights. ABL advertising and games were run on channels that  no one watched. Nike got in on the action and backed the WNBA fueling the downfall of the ABL even further. Gary Cavalli the president of the ABL challenged the WNBA to something like a superbowl challenge but the WNBA turned the proposal down. Not long after the ABL continued on its downward spiral and became no more.

The USFL on the other hand tried to compete against the NFL by offering a different style of play. They had fewer regulations and made a game more into an entertainment spectacle with world class play. The USFL snatched Heisman trophy winners and NFL veterans to form their league. The downfall came when Donald Trump became somewhat of an unofficial spokesman for the league and tried to take the NFL head on by changing their spring games to fall. Quickly after this choice the league became somewhat of a laughing stock and fizzled down to nothing.

The only similarity between these situations is the problem of trying to take on another larger competitor head on. The ABL had to compete in an already small womens basketball market against the WNBA while the USFL had to compete against the Giant NFL. The ABL was run poorly and marketed in an ineffective way which led to its eventual demise. The USFL was seen as a joke by many and tried to challenge the NFL too soon which is why they were crushed in the end.

The NWSL, or National Women’s Soccer league, was established in 2013.  The season ran from April to August and was made up of 9 teams.  Each team played 22 games, 11 home and 11 away.  The league does have some super stars of women’s soccer, such as Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, but it fails to appeal to soccer fans everywhere.  Last season, the inaugural season, the only way you could watch games was on YouTube or the teams’ own personal channel, this year games are going to broadcast on Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2.  It sounds great, they are getting on television, but those channels are not even close to being the most watched sports channels.

The biggest problem the NWSL is facing is marketing.  I think their big problem can easily become a speed bumps and not roadblock.  Marketing can be promoted by not over producing.  By this I mean they shouldn’t put out too much all at once.  You promote in a few select markets and let it grow each year.  They could also ask for assistance from the MLS, but I don’t know how much that would help because no one watches MLS soccer either.  Using the celebrity of Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach could also help the sport grow.  Those players, and others, have international success and can help promote their game in almost any market.  It will be interesting to see if they are able to maintain a steady presence in the soccer community

 

http://www.nwslsoccer.com

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130509/usfl-tim-tebow/

http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/ABL-Failed-To-Make-Most-Of-Opportunity-2970689.php

 

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