NWSL averages record 915,000 viewers on for championship match

Thorns defeat Current to claim NWSL Championship (1:53)

The Portland Thorns run out 2-0 winners over the Kansas City Current in the NWSL title decider.  (1:53)

An average of 915,000 viewers tuned in to watch the Portland Thorns collect their third National Women's Soccer League Championship against Kansas City on Saturday, setting a record for the most-watched game in league history, broadcaster CBS said.

It marked a 71% increase over last year's audience at a critical time for the women's game, after FIFA said late last month it had rejected a number of bids for the 2023 Women's World Cup broadcast rights for being too low. The quadrennial tournament is less than nine months away.

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The championship broadcast was also seen as a crucial moment for the top-flight American league grappling with the fallout of a damning abuse and misconduct inquiry in its 10th season.

The match was played in primetime on network television during Game 2 of the World Series, a year after fans and players were left outraged when the championship match was relegated to a 12 noon ET time slot, also on the CBS network.

League MVP Sophia Smith opened the scoring in the 2-0 win for the Thorns, who also lifted the Challenge Cup last year.