Last week, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) entered a historic partnership with the A&E Networks. With this partnership, A&E will become the NWSL’s newest investor and gain an equity stake in the league. The popular, leading women’s media brand Lifetime will also be a sponsor and broadcast partner for the league. This, part of a three-year contract beginning this April. As women in sports continue to strive for and push towards equality on playing ground, media availability and especially equal pay, this is huge news.
Many of the retired NWSL players have not only expressed their frustrations over the inequality in pay, but have also joined the fight with a few of the National Team players. Ones such as Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, and Carli Lloyd in their “equal play, equal pay” fight.
Because the league isn’t as broadcasted as many men’s games are, there aren’t many outside of those who are already soccer fans that know a professional league for women even exists. Partnering with A&E means that for the first time in league history, an NWSL game will be broadcasted on television every weekend of the season. Furthermore, there will even be a pre-game show before each match. This opens doors for fans across the country. This allows them to watch some of the world’s best in one of the greatest sports in the world.
“As a former college athlete,” Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO of A&E said, “I know the importance of sports in the lives of women and girls and I couldn’t be more thrilled to join forces with [the] NWSL and U.S. Soccer to ensure professional women athletes are elevated as the entire country can watch and be inspired by their strength and athleticism.” This allows a platform specifically for women’s sports to take off. And, for people to see the differences suffered by women when they aren’t seen as equal to their male counterparts… even though they arguably play a harder fought game.
Previously, you could only really watch if you lived in one of the areas that a team was in. Or, streamed it on the league’s YouTube platform.
This partnership between the NWSL and A&E is also groundbreaking since not only will the network be acting as the media and commercial arm of the league, but will include an all-new, re-designed NWSLSoccer.com. Plus, a new NWSL app on iOS and Android devices. Through their media platforms, the NWSL media will be able to produce their games in high definition. This, with a new state-of-the-art approach, allowing exclusive new and original content for fans across the country.
Soccer fans—men and women alike—should be more than excited for this partnership. It opens up the beautiful game to a new world of fans. And, to younger generations of girls who can now see great women playing a great sport. It shows a younger generation that there is a professional league for them. That they belong, and that they have people who enjoy watching them do what they love. It’s a new level of showing girls and women athletes that they can be appreciated. That they should be appreciated. That they will be appreciated. And, that they will be valued just as much as the men are.
But if nothing else, it’s a step in the right direction. Another crack in the glass ceiling.