Esmeralda Negron has gone through the experience of the women’s soccer pipeline here in the United States.
She’s been an all-American at Princeton, she’s played professionally overseas. And she’s ready to change the way the next generation experiences it, as players and through consuming it on television.
If you’ve noticed a lot more women’s soccer on TV in 2020, well, Negron and her company, Atalanta Media, have a lot to do with that. I spoke with her this month on the present, and future, of women’s soccer media rights and much more.
1. You said something really intriguing to me in this recent interview when you called Atalanta Media a “one-stop shop” for aspiring women’s soccer players, accessing it through watching games and highlights, pathways to develop as players, even to brand. How much of the gap we currently see between the men’s and women’s game on both the revenue side and the exposure side can be traced to difficulty finding all of these different threads? All of it? And when did you come to that conclusion?
When I think back, it’s clear that my experience as a player from the youth level to the professional level and my experience as a collegiate coach have all undoubtedly inspired Atalanta Media’s mission and the value we intend to deliver to our Ata Football community. My experience directing the Women’s ICC specifically really opened my eyes to the challenges professional women’s sport faces starting with premium broadcast exposure, marketing coverage and support, and dedicated resources and initiatives to drive fandom. Observing the level of broadcast and marketing coverage that more established men’s leagues get, and comparing that to the women’s game, you realize it’s only natural that the audience couldn’t compare. Hannah and I saw greater investment from some of the biggest club brands in the world, the NWSL now in its 8th season and the growth in audience of the FIFA WWC and felt there was tremendous growth potential in women’s football. We also felt growth would continue to be stifled without regular easy access and coverage. We began to think of how we could confront that challenge to drive growth, fandom, and deliver value to millions of young girls that participate in the game globally.
2. Your work in the media rights sphere came first through ICC’s women’s games when you worked at Relevant Sports. That wasn’t so long ago, but I remember the revelation of those being easy to watch at a time when you simply couldn’t find women’s soccer on TV. How much of a breakthrough was that, do you think, simply showing that it is possible, ahead of what’s been a landmark year for women’s soccer on TV?
I think my experience with the Women’s ICC certainly opened my eyes to the importance of visibility and the important role broadcasters play. ESPN was our partner both years and that partnership made it easy for fans to access some of the most competitive