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Christen Press on NWSL TV deals: ‘I can’t find my own team’

(Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Christen Press wants to close the clear gap between supply and demand for women’s sports.

The demand for content is there, but media outlets are not keeping up, Press said at the 2023 Fortune MPW conference this week. As an example, the Angel City FC forward spoke about the difficulty of finding her own club’s away games on TV and streaming services.

“I can’t find my own team play. I’m injured right now, and when the team is away it takes me 10 minutes trying to find the content for my own team,” she said. “And so it’s like, how many people does that deter? I think that’s where the investment comes in.

“And that’s where the belief that, this isn’t a charity — we’re far past the time that we want people to come in and say ‘Oh, I’m doing this for my daughter.’ We want people to come in because they see the business opportunity, because they see the potential that we have in women’s sports.”

She also called Angel City FC games – and the fans – unlike anything else she has ever played in front of, which she attributes to the community that has been created around the club.

“I think that’s because everybody that comes to a game comes for more than sport,” she said. “They come for the community, they come for the fight for equity and progress, and they come for the belief that women from all industries can rise. And when we do, we create a better world for everybody.”

Press, 34, also touched on her career overall, with the USWNT and in the NWSL, which she has spent for a better future for players that come after her. She pointed to 18-year-old USWNT and Angel City forward Alyssa Thompson, and how her entire experience as a professional is exactly that.

“The goal that we had for the whole fight for equal pay with the USWNT, and now with the NWSL following that, the goal is that the next generation doesn’t have to fight,” she said. “They don’t have to spend their entire careers doing two jobs.”

The fight for progress and equity continues. And it’s something that has reached other national federations. It’s something that Press wasn’t expecting when initially handed the torch, instead thinking her job was just to “pass it to the next generation” for the USWNT.

After the USWNT lost this year’s World Cup, though, she began to understand the magnitude of what another team winning could mean for the fight for equality.

“Both in England and in Spain, the two finalists, are having massive fights with their federations about basic rights,” she said. “And so, I think we hope as the USWNT that our fight was able to inspire the fight. I always think about walking towards equality with a torch in my hand. When I joined the USWNT, I was handed a torch because there was a whole other decade, a generation of players, that had already been fighting.

“I continue carry that torch as far and high as I can. In one way, I thought my job was to pass it to the next generation, but in a lot of ways over the last 10 years, we were able to light a little fire and let it spread out … and I think that’s a lot more powerful.”