Who funds the PWHL? Sponsorships, funding sources and more explored

ARJUN B
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Who funds the PWHL?

The newly launched Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) is funded through ownership investment, corporate sponsorships and media rights deals. The league is owned and operated by Mark Walter and Kimbra Walter's Mark Walter Group, which purchased the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in June 2023.

The Walters have fully financed the PWHL. Beyond direct ownership funding, the PWHL has secured several key corporate sponsorships. In its inaugural season, Air Canada announced its partnership.

In February 2023, PWHL announced partnerships with financial services companies Bread Financial and Discover. Other sponsors include Canadian Tire, Hyundai Auto and Rogers.

Media rights are another revenue stream for the PWHL. They signed their first U.S. broadcast deal with Women's Sports Network (WSN) to air games nationally. In Canada, three major media companies—TSN, RDS, and Sportsnet—acquired rights to broadcast PWHL games.

"Brands that have invested in the PWHL have signaled their confidence in the success of professional women’s sports, and believe in the valuable return that working with this league can provide," senior manager of corporate partnerships Paul Gugliucci said.
"No collaboration is alike, and the PWHL is making it a point to bring new ideas to the table for potential partners.”

What is PWHL's relationship with the NHL?

The PWHL and the NHL have been working together, but their relationship is not a financial one, according to NHL executive Susan Cohig.

Cohig, the NHL's executive vice president of club business affairs, confirmed in an interview with CBC Sports that the PWHL is operating under a single-entity ownership structure with funding from the Mark Walter group.

"They have the financial resources that they need," Cohig said.

The NHL's first objective is to assist the PWHL in areas where they can collaborate by sharing information and experience running a professional hockey league. Direct NHL funding may no longer be as important due to the PWHL's financial backing and sponsorship partnerships.

Ann Pegoraro, the Lang Chair in Sport Management at the University of Guelph, pointed out that sponsorship deals with Canadian Tire and Air Canada indicate financial support from the NHL is not as crucial as it may have been in the past.

"I think the financial support from the NHL is not as critical as it would have been a decade ago or even five years ago," Pegoraro said.

While the NHL is not providing direct funding, PWHL board member Stan Kasten disagreed that the league does not benefit financially from the partnership.

"Every contribution they make to us of advice and assistance does help us on our financial side," Kasten said.

However, he reiterated that the PWHL is a standalone league and solely responsible for itself.

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