Despite remarkable goals, multiple stoppage time winners and an exciting week of games, one of the main storylines of the past NWSL weekend is broadcast problems – yes, again. In the first two matches, U.S. viewers weren’t able to see live footage until 38 minutes into both games.
Washington Spirit, who were playing the North Carolina Courage, tried to lean into the awkwardness of it all with a little levity. Stranded with no ability to post highlights, the Spirit admin began describing the match through photos of written words and stick figure representations of match action.
Unfortunately, the issues didn’t end once the broadcast feed finally appeared. The only goalscorer of the first half, Trinity Rodman, was chosen for a live halftime interview but audio issues turned that into a calamity too.
While it hasn’t been confirmed that the error was on Vista WorldLink, a longtime NWSL broadcast partner, and not CBS, Vista has a history of unfortunate and not dissimilar issues.
From infamously dubbed ‘potato cameras,’ routine glitches and technical difficulties, plus wonky production – ranging from inaccurate graphics to tracking the wrong Black child after a feature on Jessica McDonald and her son – Vista’s reputation is poor at best.
This is the last year of the NWSL’s contract with CBS, and the exclusive negotiating period with the network has expired without an extension. The move wasn’t unexpected as the growth of women’s sports universally — and women’s soccer specifically — meant the league would be doing itself a disservice to not shop itself around a bit.
With two new expansion teams coming into the league next season, there will be a lot of content in the offseason for a broadcaster to use to ramp up excitement ahead of the season. The NWSL should also be looking for more primetime TV slots and the richest broadcast deal in its history.
Whoever secures the league’s next broadcast deal, it will be up to the NWSL to leave its history of amateur broadcast quality behind by punting Vista into a faraway ocean. The NWSL has the talent and top-to-bottom competition to be considered the best women’s league in the world, but issues like these keep the league in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.