By ASHLEY MATOS
The National Women’s Soccer League and A+E Networks announced on Thursday a partnership that includes a three-year deal, in which a league game will be broadcast on Lifetime, a move that raised the eyebrows of some soccer fans.
“In a time that could not be any more significant and important for women, not only in our country, but worldwide,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO of A&E Networks. “So I’m looking forward to our partnership, not only to promote soccer and the NWSL, but to also show girls and women around the world how to think about themselves and their place in this world differently.”
“We’re about to continue the growth of the game, and what better way than to do it than to have a game once a week where the fans can connect and be a part of this,” Christie Rampone, Sky Blue FC defender. “It’s exciting to move forward and have young girls and boys have the opportunity to be able to watch professional sports, especially on the female side. So it gives these girls the opportunity to someday aspire to be in our footsteps”
The decision to broadcast the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime was questioned by some women’s soccer fans. Lifetime has not aired live sports, since a decision in the early 2000s to move away from live sports event coverage.
“We’re not in the game of the week business, necessarily, we’re investing in NWSL in addition to broadcasting. The Game of the Week is one part of that,” said Dubuc
Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer President, said that part of the goal is to make the players bigger stars. “This is about the league, about long term development of the league and, as Nancy and Jeff both said, it’s more than just broadcasting 20-plus games.”
The money put in by A&E goes to helping the League and the players. “It shows that they believe in us as players,” said Rampone
Lifetime, mostly known for it’s female-targeted programming, wants to create a more rounded experience for it’s viewers. “Sports are great dramatic stories, and if those sports stories are served up in an entertaining and relatable way, and in a passionate way, women crave those authentic stories of aspiration, of competition, of drive and determinations, agony and defeat, to use the phrase,” said Dubuc.