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NWSL, A+E Networks terminate partnership early

With no more Lifetime Games of the Week, all 2019 regular-season matches will be streamed on Yahoo!Sports

NWSL and A+E Networks announced an early end to their three-year joint venture.

The National Women’s Soccer League and A+E Networks announced on Wednesday that they pair had come to an “amicable end” to their three-year agreement. The split is effective immediately with one year remaining in their three-year broadcast agreement.

As a result, Lifetime will no longer air Game of the Week broadcasts on the network. Instead, all regular-season NWSL matches will be streamed on Yahoo!Sports, while international fans will be able to stream matches on the NWSL website and app.

“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,” said NWSL President Amanda Duffy.

The NWSL and A+E Networks announced their three-year partnership in early 2017, but the joint venture went beyond just Lifetime becoming the official broadcast partner of the league. A+E also acquired an equity stake in the league, joining the existing ownership groups, and launched NWSL Media.

Lifetime will remain a jersey sleeve sponsor for the league, and NWSL Media will continue operating as the commercial arm of the league, including managing all digital assets and social media platforms for the league.

The split is a noticeable step back for the league broadcast-wise, which was mostly celebrated in early 2017 when the venture with A+E Networks was announced. A major network, one that had previously supported the WNBA, broadcasting weekly games was a big deal and major improvement over the unreliable YouTube streams of the league’s first four years.

However, with A+E no longer having an equity stake in the league, the move may not be all bad.

“We have been in discussion with the League’s leadership and are in support of both the League and these changes,” the NWSL Players Association said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“We understand the NWSL now 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.”

In other NWSL news, the full 2019 schedule is slated to be released on Thursday, February 21.