Women's United Soccer Association on television

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The Women's United Soccer Association, often abbreviated to the WUSA, was the world's first women's soccer league in which all the players were paid as professionals. Founded in February 2000,[1] the league began its first season in April 2001 with eight teams in the United States. The league suspended operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the end of its third season, after making cumulative losses of around US$100 million.[2]

Television coverage[edit]

At various times, games were televised on TNT, CNNSI, ESPN2, PAX TV, and various local and regional sports channels via Comcast,[3][4] Cox,[5] Fox, AT&T, and MSG.[6][7][8]

TNT and CNN/SI (2001)[edit]

TNT[9] broadcast the very first[10] WUSA game on April 21, 2001, which was contest between the Atlanta Beat and New York Power[11] at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.[12] Former U.S. national team member Wendy Gebauer Palladino helped called the game alongside broadcaster JP Dellacamera[13] and American soccer great Michelle Akers. About 22 games[14][15] were scheduled to be broadcast nationally on TNT or CNN/SI[16] in 2001. 15 games were initially expected to be shown on TNT[17] and seven games[18] on CNN/SI over the course of June to August.[19] The deal included broadcast of playoffs and the championship game,[20][21] the Founders Cup.[22] During a four year span, TNT and CNN/SI were due to televise at least 88 games,[23] under a $3 million TV contract.[24]

Ratings were not available for CNN/SI[25] for the 2001 season as the cable TV provider did not reach enough households to be a statistical factor.

Pax (2002–2003)[edit]

After the 2001 season, the WUSA opted out[26] of its four-year[27] agreement to go with a two year pact[28] with the Pax network.[29][30][31][32] The WUSA's reasoning that Pax's offer for a 4 p.m. Saturday timeslot was more desirable[33] than the noon[34] timeslot that TNT offered.

The change[35] from TNT and CNN/SI to Pax however, may have immediately depressed ratings by confusing fans.[36] To be more specific, the WUSA's ratings plunged from the 0.4[37] to 0.2[38] average it got on TNT to a 0.1 average on Pax. In other words, where as an average of 425,000 households tuned in to watch the games on TNT, fewer than 100,000 watched them on Pax. Keep in mind that Pax was a station available in 90 million,[39] 5 million more than TNT.[40] The move to Pax also came as AOL Time Warner[41] considered morphing CNN/SI into a basketball channel that would be co-owned with the National Basketball Association.

Pax's coverage in itself, concerned the broadcast of the WUSA Game of the Week, on 19 consecutive Saturdays[42] beginning in April at 4:00 p.m.[43] (ET). In 2003, the league wouldn't decide on the opponents for the final Pax Game of the Week on August 9 in order to provide soccer fans with the best possible matchup with playoff implications. The decision on the two opponents for the August 9 game would be made in early August. In total,[44] Pax was scheduled to televise 18[45] regular season games and one WUSA Playoff Semifinal in the second week of August.

Pax would receive certain cross-promotional opportunities with the league, including signs at each team venue, although the WUSA would handle ad sales for the games. The agreement carried a reported value of $2 million.[46][47]

ESPN2 (2003)[edit]

For the WUSA's third and final season,[48][49] they announced that ESPN2[50] would join Pax in broadcasting 23 league games in 2003. This would begin with a rematch of Founders Cup II[51] with the Washington Freedom visit the Carolina Courage on April 5. ESPN2 was scheduled to broadcast only four of the 23 nationally televised games. This included the All-Star Game[52] on June 19 and the Founders Cup[53] on August 24. Beth Mowins[54] and Anson Dorrance handled WUSA games on not just Pax[55][56] but ESPN2 also.

The WUSA ultimately scored a 0.1 percent rating on Pax and 0.2 percent on ESPN2.[57]

List of broadcasters[edit]

Local coverage[edit]

Team Channels Announcers
Atlanta Beat WATL[58]
FSN South
Jenn Hildreth[59]
Boston Breakers AT&T3[60] JP Dellacamera and Seamus Malin[61]
Carolina Courage WRPX
New York Power MSG
FSN New York
Joe Tolleson[62] and Lori Walker[63]
Philadelphia Charge Comcast SportsNet
Lou Tilley[65] and Jim Harrison
San Diego Spirit Channel 4 San Diego[66] Chris Ello,[67] Jim Stone,[68] Chris Marlowe,[69] Allen Hopkins, Brian Quinn,[70] and Jill Ellis
San Jose CyberRays FSN Bay Area
Hal Ramey[71] and Jennifer Thomas
Washington Freedom Comcast SportsNet
Dave Johnson[72] and Lori Walker[73]

WUSA Founders Cup broadcasters[edit]

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Touchline reporter
2003 ESPN2 Beth Mowins Anson Dorrance Tisha Venturini
2002 Pax Beth Mowins Anson Dorrance Eric Frede
2001 TNT JP Dellacamera Wendy Gebauer Beth Mowins

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cohen, Andrew. "The Women's United Soccer Association Breaks Mold". Athletic Business.
  2. ^ King, Bill. "Confident, yes, but can new league survive?". Sport Business Journal. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Ohio State's Lori Walker to Announce USA vs. Finland Match ..." Ohio State University.
  4. ^ Smallwood, John (November 25, 2012). "John Smallwood: No reason to thing this women's soccer league will succeed". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  5. ^ "Women's soccer in deals". CNN Money. April 10, 2000.
  6. ^ "Walker Set to Call WUSA National Telecast". Ohio State University. August 5, 2003.
  7. ^ Nordin, Kendra (April 13, 2001). "Women stars have league of their own". The Christian Science Monitor.
  8. ^ "Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) Announces Television Coverage for Every Game During Inaugural Season". USSF. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  10. ^ Lauletta, Dan (April 10, 2019). "In failure, WUSA left behind blueprint for distant future". The Equalizer.
  11. ^ Felicien, Bria (April 20, 2020). "A look back at WUSA's Atlanta Beat, 19 years after inaugural match". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  12. ^ Klein, Jeff Z. (April 17, 2001). "Foot Soldiers". The Village Voice.
  14. ^ "WUSA: TNT and CNNSI to show 22 games". Soccer America. February 20, 2001.
  15. ^ Stossel, Scott. "As American as Women's Soccer?". The Atlantic.
  16. ^ "WUSA: TNT and CNNSI to show 22 games". Soccer America. February 20, 2001. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  17. ^ WUSA 2001 Carolina Courage v Washington Freedom regular season on YouTube
  18. ^ Tedesco, Richard (April 17, 2000). "WUSA scores Turner pact". Broadcasting+Cable.
  19. ^ Penner, Mike (April 16, 2001). "It's the Birth of a Notion". Los Angeles.
  20. ^ George, John (April 9, 2001). "Women's soccer team ready to Charge". Philadelphia Business Journal.
  21. ^ "Ten Former Irish Players Making Their Mark In Women's ..." The University of Notre Dame. August 8, 2001.
  22. ^ WUSA 2001 Bay Area CyberRays v Atlanta Beat Founders Cup I on YouTube
  23. ^ Trecker, Jamie. "WMLS? No way, say U.S. women". ESPN.com.
  24. ^ Wahl, Grant. "BATTLE OF THE SEXES". Sports Illustrated.
  25. ^ "WUSA – big success despite small TV audiences". FIFA. October 19, 2001.
  26. ^ Howard, Johnette (October 11, 2003). "WUSA THE EPILOGUE: Lack of television insight is No. 1 reason league is on the shelf". Newsday.
  28. ^ "WUSA had big drop in attendance". ESPN.com.
  29. ^ Umstead, R. Thomas (December 18, 2001). "Pax TV Nets WUSA Pact". Multichannel News.
  30. ^ Longman, Jere (June 3, 2002). "SOCCER; U.S. Soccer: Sport of 70's, 80's and 90's Still Waits". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Longman, Jere (September 16, 2003). "SOCCER; Women's Soccer League Folds on World Cup's Eve". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Schultz, Jaime (15 March 2014). Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women's Sport. p. 191. ISBN 9780252095962.
  33. ^ Rosner, Shropshire, Scott, Kenneth (2011). The Business of Sports. p. 103. ISBN 9780763780784.
  34. ^ "Soccer Superstar Mia Hamm To Answer This Week's 'AOL Question Of The Game' On TNT". WarnerMedia. May 17, 2001.
  35. ^ Trecker, Jerry (April 11, 2002). "WUSA: THE SECOND SEASON BEGINS". Hartford Courant.
  36. ^ Smolkin, Rachel (June 26, 2002). "Women's soccer league faces endurance test". Chicago Tribune.
  37. ^ Desbordes, Michel (23 May 2012). Marketing and Football. p. 379. ISBN 9781136380655.
  38. ^ Reynolds, Mike (August 25, 2002). "Cable's League of Its Own, Soccer's WUSA, Struggles".
  39. ^ Straus, Brian (August 23, 2002). "Half-Full or Half-Empty? WUSA Glass a Bit of Both". The Washington Post.
  40. ^ "SOCCER: WUSA second year has higher expectations". The Associated Press. April 13, 2002.
  41. ^ Romano, Allison (December 19, 2001). "WUSA subs Pax TV for Turner". Broadcasting+Cable.
  43. ^ "TV: WUSA moves to PAX". Soccer America. December 18, 2001.
  44. ^ Wilner, Barry (April 4, 2003). "WUSA, World Cup feed off each other". ESPNFC.
  45. ^ Rusnak, Jeff (March 30, 2003). "BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, WUSA SET TO OPEN". South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
  46. ^ Umstead, R. Thomas (December 23, 2001). "WUSA, Pax Net TV Soccer Pact". Multichannel News.
  47. ^ Rovell, Darren (September 15, 2002). "SPORTSBUSINESS - Rovell: WUSA quickly failed". ESPN.com.
  48. ^ Bialik, Fry, Carl, Jason (September 16, 2003). "Women's Soccer League Folds Just Days Before World Cup". The Wall Street Journal.
  49. ^ Straus, Brian (September 16, 2003). "Women's Pro Soccer League Forced to Fold". The Washington Post.
  50. ^ "ESPN2 to Broadcast WUSA Games". OurSportsCentral. April 3, 2003.
  51. ^ WUSA: Founders Cup II 8/24/2002 on YouTube
  52. ^ "WUSA, ESPN2 Near TV Deal". Multichannel. March 28, 2003.
  53. ^ "Atlanta Beat to Face Mia Hamm & the Washington Freedom in Founders Cup III". OurSports Central. August 18, 2003.
  54. ^ "Mowins and Dorrance Named to PAX Broadcast Team". OurSports Central. April 9, 2002.
  55. ^ WUSA on PAX: Washington Freedom vs. Philadelphia Charge on YouTube
  56. ^ WUSA on PAX: 2002 WUSA All-Star Game on YouTube
  57. ^ Cohen, Andrew. "Madness, Indeed". Athletic Business.
  58. ^ "Atlanta Beat Announces its 2002 Local Television Schedule". OurSports Central. April 8, 2002.
  59. ^ "Fox Soccer Channel Announces On-Air Talent for WPS Sunday on FSC Telecasts Beginning March 29". Business Wire.
  60. ^ Umstead, R. Thomas (December 9, 2001). "AT&T 3 Provides Outlet For Broadcast Syndicators". Multichannel News.
  61. ^ "Lacrosse And Women's Soccer Set To Begin Inaugural Seasons". Sports Business Daily. March 29, 2001.
  62. ^ "Yes Network Will Televise 26 NYCFC Matches in 2020". New York City Football Club.
  63. ^ "Ohio State Women's Soccer Head Coach to Serve as Color Analyst". Ohio State University. July 21, 2005.
  64. ^ "Charge Sit Alone Atop WUSA". OurSports Central. May 13, 2002.
  65. ^ Wiley, Greg (April 9, 2002). "Philadelphia Charge Week-in-Review". South Jersey Sports.
  66. ^ Maffei, John (May 25, 2001). "Steep angles at USD cripple TV coverage of Spirit". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  67. ^ Maffei, John (April 27, 2001). "Sports voice Hamilton eager to return to NFL". The San Diego Union*Tribune.
  68. ^ "WUSA Week 4 Predictions and Previews". Soccer America. May 3, 2001.
  69. ^ "Spirit's 2003 local TV schedule". Big Soccer. March 25, 2003.
  70. ^ "San Diego Spirit Names New Broadcast Team". OurSports Central. March 29, 2002.
  71. ^ "Thomas Named As Color Commentator for CyberRays". University of California Berkeley. March 29, 2002. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  72. ^ "Walker To Serve As Color Commentator For WUSA". Ohio State Buckeyes. April 11, 2002.
  73. ^ "Soccer: Lori Walker Back in Announcer's Booth". Ohio State Buckeyes.

External links[edit]