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NWSL working on new broadcast deal with A&E Network

Amanda Duffy during the NWSL Championship Media Day prior to the NWSL Championship match between the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns FC at Orlando City Stadium. (Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos)

National Women’s Soccer League president Amanda Duffy already has her sights set on a new broadcast deal. The league’s contract with A&E Networks is entering its final season, and Duffy is in talks to renew the partnership. 

“It’s an important piece of where we are today, to have the broadcast agreement with Lifetime that airs more than 20 of our games on national television in 95 million homes each week throughout the regular season,” Duffy, whose title changed from managing director to president said. “We’ve really enjoyed working with Lifetime and they’ve positioned us to be in a good place as we are entering into those conversations about what our future broadcast situation looks like.”

Lifetime television channel is part of A&E Network, which is an equity partner of the NWSL. Lifetime broadcasts the NWSL Game of the Week, though ESPNews took over six of the broadcasts during the second half of last season. 

Duffy said the league’s partnership with A&E hasn’t hindered it from seeking other broadcast deals. 

“A&E is a great supporter and partner, equity partner of NWSL,” she said. “The reason and rationale and, really, the source of inspiration behind the partnership was A&E’s interest in being a part of the growth of this league. They will be fully behind, and cooperative, supportive in our collective marketing approach about our broadcast agreement.”

Duffy told Pro Soccer USA in November the partnership also allows NWSL to experiment and collect more information on its broadcasts that will be useful as the league continues to grow.

“It really elevated our ability to operate, and the relationships and broadcast opportunities. Through A&E we’ve been able to explore, and we moved some games to ESPNnews . . . and were able to explore different days, different time windows for our broadcasts, and just get some other data that is helpful to us as we explore, ‘What is the right window for us? What’s the right partnership for us? What’s the national broadcast perspective, both linear and digitally? It’s been invaluable for opening opportunities for us and giving us more in-depth information in how we analyze.”

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.

Duffy said 2019 games will be streamed on Yahoo! Sports after Verizon’s g090 platform was shut down midway through last season. She added more details “beyond that” will be released when the 2019 schedule is unveiled. Preseason is set to start March 4 and the league’s seventh regular season will start April 13.

When asked when the finalized schedule is coming out, Duffy said, “We anticipate very soon. We’re actively working on that right now. Expect to have that to you very soon.”

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