The National Women’s Soccer League and A&E Networks announced an “amicable end” to their partnership, which was in the second year of a three-year broadcast deal.
The end of the partnership is effective immediately.
Lifetime, part of A&E Networks, will no longer broadcast the NWSL Game of the Week. ESPNews took over six of the Game of the Week broadcasts during the second half of last season. Lifetime will continue to support the league through its sleeve sponsorship agreement.
“Our two seasons with A&E were rewarding for our league, players, sponsors and fans, just as we had anticipated, and the experiences on the path we traveled with a national television partner have served NWSL well today and will for the future,” NWSL President Amanda Duffy said in a statement. “The continued support from Lifetime through the sleeve sponsorship speaks to the authenticity and strength of the partnership we forged during these past two seasons. NWSL is a pioneering league, still in its infancy, as it builds and evolves to become the premier women’s league in the world’s most popular sport.”
The NWSL schedule will be announced Thursday. All of the NWSL’s 2019 regular-season matches will be streamed on Yahoo! Sports. Games will be available internationally through the NWSL app and NWSLsoccer.com.
NWSL’s seventh regular season kicks off the weekend of April 13. Preseason gets started March 4.
“A&E Networks and Lifetime were proud to support the amazing athletes of the NWSL and to have produced a first-class Game of the Week production that highlighted their amazing talents,” A&E Networks COO and CFO David Granville-Smith said. “We are excited to continue to support the league with the sleeve sponsorship in 2019 and look forward to seeing the NWSL grow in the years to come.”
The NWSL Players Association released a statement via Twitter shortly after the league announced the end of its partnership with A&E.
“We have been in discussion with the league’s leadership and are in support of both the league and these changes,” the NWSLPA said in the statement. “The last few years have brought the NWSL to new heights in terms of leadership, standards, and expectations, and are confident it will continue to operate in a stronger and more strategic way.
“We understand now that the NWSL has more control over its future in the form of expansion, sponsorship, and the commercial enterprising of the business, and we share the league’s ambition and vision for the future. NWSL is still a league in its infancy, but we know it has an ambitious vision for the future and we look forward to helping shape that future.”
Duffy spoke highly of the league’s partnership with A&E as recently as January at the NWSL draft, though she told a gathering of supporters in Chicago the deal didn’t hinder the league from seeking other broadcast deals.
The partnership with Lifetime was announced ahead of the 2017 season. NWSL Media, which oversees the live streaming of all the league’s matches and runs NWSLSoccer.com and the league’s social media accounts, is a joint venture between NWSL and A&E that was launched two years ago.
According to a statement from the league, “NWSL Media will continue operating as the commercial arm of the league, overseeing all of its global broadcast and sponsorship rights, and managing all digital assets for the NWSL, including the league’s social media platforms.”