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Women’s sports are getting their own network

February 2, 2022, 2:01 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Social security benefits issues leave COVID widows behind, Biden’s TBD Supreme Court nominee gets a sherpa, and women’s sports are getting their own network. Have a great Wednesday.

– Game on. To state the obvious: It’s not easy to be female pro athlete. Not only do you have to compete with the most athletically gifted women of your generation—you also have to prove that you and your sports deserve the respect, attention and compensation that seems to flow so easily to elite male athletes (see the news about the National Women’s Soccer League for the latest example.)

In those battles, one of the weapons that’s been wielded against women’s sports is the idea that they’re less of a draw—that fans just aren’t that interested in watching women play. So I was fascinated to learn that a new venture is putting that idea to the test by launching a stand-alone women’s sports streaming platform.

From the report in the LA Times: “The Women’s Sports Network is partnering with several prominent organizations, including the Ladies Professional Golf Assn., U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and World Surf League, which have agreed to provide content to the venture. The network, which plans to provide coverage of a range of sports, also plans original programming, including a daily studio show produced in Los Angeles. The show will be modeled after ESPN’s SportsCenter and will include game highlights but will be hosted by female anchors who will discuss the events of the day.”

The new streamer will run coverage 24/7 and launch as a free, ad-supported service, no subscription required. It’s expected to get off the ground this summer.

Supporters say the business case for the network is there; advertisers are already all in on top female athletes and the majority of women’s sports consumers are reportedly employed college grads between the ages of 25 and 34—a prime market.

Launching a streaming service is complicated, so whether the Women’s Sports Network thrives or fails is not a ruling on the economic viability of women’s athletics, but it would certainly provide athletes with a boost if it takes off. For those who want to see their favorite female players get the attention they deserve, there’s one thing they can do to help: tune in.

Kristen Bellstrom

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Giving update. Melinda French Gates updated her Giving Pledge letter, the first change she's made since her divorce to the public pledge to give away the bulk of her fortune. In the new letter, rather than promising to give away her wealth almost solely to the Gates Foundation, French Gates implies that her philanthropy will be directed to a range of organizations and causes. Wall Street Journal

- Behind on benefits. Social security offices remain closed amid the pandemic—making it extraordinarily difficult for families of people who died of COVID-19 to receive social security benefits. COVID widows, whether parents of young children seeking benefits for young survivors or women over 60 seeking "aged widow benefits," are getting left behind by bureaucracy. The 19th*/Fortune

- Most admired. Fortune's annual list of the World's Most Admired Companies is out today, and some women-led businesses appear on the list. CVS Health (led by CEO Karen Lynch), Accenture (led by CEO Julie Sweet), and Best Buy (led by CEO Corie Barry) are among the bunch. Fortune

- Fed insight. Lisa Cook is President Joe Biden's nominee to join the Federal Reserve board of governors. The work of the Michigan State economics professor provides some clues as to her likely positions were she to join the Fed (as its first Black female member). She has said that U.S. laws and society limit economic opportunity for women and minorities; called for more diversity among economic policymakers; and said that she views some current inflation as "temporary." Wall Street Journal

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- Supreme Court sherpa. When President Joe Biden picks a Supreme Court nominee, she will be shepherded through the process by former Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, the White House said yesterday. Biden has promised to name a Black woman to the court. New York Times

- Goal, achieved. The National Women's Soccer League and its players' association this week came to terms on their first collective bargaining agreement in the league's 10 years of existence. The terms include a minimum salary of $35,000, which is a 60% increase, and 4% yearly raises. Guardian

- What's cooking? In the four years since the #MeToo movement started to change cultures in restaurant kitchens, female chefs in New York City have seen some change—but not enough. Women who run the city's kitchens say they "still struggle to command the same degree of authority as their male counterparts, but they are also working together and sharing information to stamp out lingering sexism." GrubStreet


Quinta Brunson made network TV cool again Vulture

Rio Tinto says racism and sexual harassment are widespread at miner Wall Street Journal

Rep. Ayanna Pressley is challenging beauty norms to make women of color feel seen Elle


"You can’t live life and think that things are just mistakes: I just messed up there, I messed up there. No, it’s all lessons."

-Jennifer Lopez, in a New York Times profile

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