-- NWSL owners control their destiny. The deal with A+E gave the network a 25 percent share in the league and two seats on its board of directors. NWSL owners have bought back that share.
"With the owners that we have today and the lessons that we've learned over the past several years," Duffy said, "it's very important and very valuable that the owners have full control over shaping the future of this league."
-- NWSL's commercial business remains work in progress. Per their 2017 agreement, NWSL and A+E formed NWSL Media -- 50-50 ownership -- to handle the NWSL's digital operations and handle the league's commercial business. The NWSL will also take back control of those parts of the business. (A+E will remain as a sleeve sponsor.)
“The league is very well positioned," said Duffy, "to take on NWSL Media in a wholly-owned way and approach the strategy and operation in a more centralized way from a day-to-day standpoint."
In the end, the divorce is not a surprise. The A+E executives who championed the original deal are gone, and live sports were an odd fit for Lifetime and its staple of movies targeted to and about women. A+E began sub-licensing NWSL games to ESPN in the second half of the 2018 season, so the writing was on the wall.
The business of women's pro soccer remains tough. The NWSL is in its Year 7 -- the two previous leagues, WUSA and WPS, both folded after Year 3 -- but it still isn't easy going.
At the one end, the Portland Thorns averaged just shy of 17,000 fans a game in 2018 -- better than six MLS teams -- but at the other end is the mess that's been Sky Blue FC, which struggles to sign players in the aftermath of reports about poor working conditions. In between, there are teams like the Houston Dash and Orlando Pride, both operated by MLS clubs but suffering from declining attendance.
The Lifetime game of the week will be a loss for soccer fans, though. The broadcasts were of high quality and presented the league, its clubs and players in a serious way.
For that reason, it's a particularly sad day for women's soccer.