The 2021 National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) season came to a close this past Saturday as the Boston Pride claimed its second Isobel Cup in franchise history. Normally, fans in the United States would only be able to catch the championship action via Twitch. But for the first time the games were also available on NBCSN, which hosted Isobel Cup games in the U.S. while Twitch took point on the international stream for the playoffs. "It's monumental for strengthening the NWHL brand and for the growth of professional women's hockey, and so important for young girls and boys to see female athletes on television," said NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia.
This was Twitch's second season as the streaming home for all league games.
As the NWHL works toward wage parity, Twitch works with the league to increase sponsorship opportunities for women's professional hockey and find brand partners with intersecting values. Global Head of Sponsorship Sales at Twitch Lou Garate says, "With a high level of collaboration and understanding, we created official sponsorship programs - like we have with Discover Financial Services -- that connect the NWHL and brand partners with a mission-driven initiative that aligns to their values."
Fans have flocked to watching professional women's hockey online, making Twitch's interactive streaming service the right home to drive enthusiasm for the sport and real-time engagement. The League'sfollowing on Twitch has increased 260% year over year. Prior to the stoppage, some NWHL games reached nearly one million unique live viewers. This season, hockey fans collectively watched nearly 11 million minutes of live NWHL content and logged over 130,000 chat messages during the live games.Commissioner Tumminia said, "We've really loved the engagement levels on Twitch's streaming platform with the live chat feature that provides a unique opportunity for our fans to interact with each other and the broadcast team in real time."
Twitch works closely with brand partners to amplify initiatives that strive to create a more inclusive and equitable community on- and off-line. Due to its interactive nature, Twitch gives fans opportunities to engage with each other around their shared passions and drum up excitement about important causes, like pay equity for women athletes.
Earlier this year, Twitch facilitated a partnership between the NWHL and Discover Financial Services -- making Discover the largest sponsor in league history. NWHL's player agreement distributes 50% of all sponsorship revenue to the players. With additional sponsors, the league hopes to add more teams to the league and games on the schedule, for their growing fanbase. "Discover supports hockey at all levels, and this partnership helps promote women's professional hockey in the drive for wage parity in sports. We're looking forward to more brands following their lead in supporting this important cause" states Garate.
Women's History Month concluded with the Boston Pride being crowned 2021 NWHL Isobel Cup Champions, Garate and Twitch have a message for those who haven't yet checked out one of the country's fastest growing leagues: "If you say that you support women, prove it. Join us in helping grow this league and support the important issue of equal pay in sports."
Photo credits goes to Michelle Jay/NWHL
Source: Twitch Internal Data. Global Data. Subscribers. Feb. 2020 vs. Feb 2021; Twitch Internal Data. Global Data. Unique users, CCU minutes watched, Chat. Jan - March 2021.
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