BBC Sport has been awarded exclusive free-to-air rights to screen every match from the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next summer.
The corporation will provide comprehensive coverage of next year’s tournament on TV, radio and online, with all 52 games from the group stages to the final set to air across BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Red Button.
Women’s football’s biggest showpiece will therefore receive the most extensive coverage ever on UK terrestrial television and follows the BBC’s coverage of the Women’s European Championships in 2013, as well as regular highlights from of the FA WSL and live England Women’s home internationals.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup kicks off on June 6, with the final in Vancouver on July 5, while the all-important group stage draw will take place in Ottawa on December 6, which features England, defending world champions Japan and reigning European champions Germany.
It is the first time that the BBC has committed to screening every game from a FIFA Women’s World Cup in the tournament’s history and builds on the corporation’s coverage of previous World Cups, in China 2007 and Germany 2011, when England’s group games were shown behind the Red Button and the final was broadcast live on BBC TV.
Following pressure from MPs and charities, the BBC switched England’s quarter-final clash with France from its initial slot on Red Button to BBC Two, with the Lionesses heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat watched by nearly three million viewers.
Since then, the BBC provided extensive live coverage of the women’s football tournament at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the resulting surge in interest in the women’s game leading the corporation to expanding its women’s football coverage.
Alongside full coverage of every 2015 World Cup match across BBC Two, BBC Three and the Red Button, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website will also offer extensive output throughout the tournament.
Commenting on the ground-breaking TV deal, Barbara Slater, the BBC’s director of sport, said: “We’re delighted to be adding the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 to our portfolio of women’s sport.
“Our coverage of women’s football goes from strength to strength and there continues to be a strong appetite for it.
“We look forward to bringing our audiences the excitement and drama of another major women’s international football tournament.”
Niclas Ericson, director of FIFA TV, added: “FIFA TV is delighted to be working with the BBC to bring all the action, excitement and drama from the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.
“The BBC offers a huge platform to showcase one of the largest women’s sports events to a British audience, with an unrivalled reach across TV, radio and online.
“FIFA is investing more than ever in the live broadcast production of our flagship women’s football event and it is encouraging for us to see our Media Rights Licensees also doing more than ever to promote women’s football.
“We look forward to a spectacular tournament in Canada next summer.”
All of England’s tournament games are likely to be shown live on either BBC Two and BBC Three, with the favourable time-zone ensure most matches will kick off in primetime slots for a UK audience.
The month-long tournament sees 52 matches taking place in six Canadian cities – Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Moncton – across a four-week festival of women’s international football.
England will go into the tournament with high hopes having booked their place for the 2015 finals by winning all of their matches in what turned out to be a comfortable qualifying group, but they have never made it past the quarter-final stage of a World Cup.
In total, Mark Sampson’s side scored 52 goals during the qualification period, with Eniola Aluko netting a quarter of them, and conceded just once in 900 minutes of football.
The BBC covered all of England Women’s home qualifying matches for the World Cup, as well as selected home friendlies, alongside regular highlights of the domestic FA WSL season on The Women’s Football Show, broadcast on BBC Three, as well as live coverage of the FA Women’s Cup final in May.
The corporation will be hoping to build on the impressive viewing figures from the 2013 Women’s Euros, which reached audiences of nearly 10m and resulted in the subsequent expansion of women’s football content across its TV, radio and online services.
In addition to the BBC’s coverage, pan-European broadcaster British Eurosport will also screen live coverage of every match from the tournament.
For more information about the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, visit fifa.com/womensworldcup.