LAFC announced both their first ever jersey sponsor and new broadcast partner as they team up with YouTube to create the first of its kind deal.
MLS and TV have a complicated history. For many years, even the most die-hard fan had trouble keeping up with the variety of televised game days and times. Things have improved in the past few seasons, and the new deal struck by LAFC continues that positive movement forward.
On Wednesday the expansion club announced that YouTube would be their first ever shirt sponsor, as well as their partner for streaming LAFC matches locally. The deal, however, is built on the new YouTube TV model introduced in 2017, and not available for free streaming.
YouTube TV is an over-the-top streaming package for $35 a month, much like the PlayStation Vue and fuboTV offerings. Signing up for the deal would allow LAFC fans access to watch every match for their club, as well as nationally televised games.
Is it worth it?
Yes. If you are a LAFC fan and thinking about cutting cable or already use a month-to-month streaming service. However, for the regular MLS fan, the service is an interesting offer, but not an option.
MLS Live, for $79.99 a season, offers access to all league matches that are not on national television or a part of a local market coverage. The LAFC YouTube TV deal is only available to the local Los Angeles market.
Issues with MLS Live blackouts, and lack of access across all streaming devices (i.e. PS4) aside, it’s still the best option for the fan trying to catch the most action possible.
How does it impact the future?
The new partnership only benefits LAFC at the moment but does open the door to a much larger impact for the league in the years ahead. MLS has increasingly utilized YouTube for live studio events and creating content for its own channel.
The current MLS TV deals run through 2022. ESPN and FS1 have worked well together for the past few seasons, creating MLS Soccer Sunday – a doubleheader event which finally offers fans an anchor in the week for league coverage. But 2017 saw a number of match days with adjusted start times or reduced to only one match because of those networks commitments to other sports.
Last season, Facebook signed on to stream the English-language version of national TV matches on Univision, along with an additional MLS news program. Streaming services aren’t restricted by scheduling conflicts or run-overs by other programs.
If LAFC’s deal with YouTube TV proves successful, the league could push to expand their coverage of the league. Could we even see them or Facebook make a move to be the exclusive outlet for MLS Live matches before the 2022 deal ends?