YouTube TV and Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) this morning jointly announced the striking of a deal to show LAFC matches via YouTube TV. However, this is much more than just another way for fans to engage and follow their favorite team’s latest soccer matches, as this deal is different to how games are shown via services like YouTube TV due to the absence of a third-party channel within the chain. Instead, and in an unprecedented fashion, YouTube TV itself has struck the deal directly with LAFC to be the exclusive provider of LAFC matches and content. Unlike Premier League or Major League Soccer (MLS) matches in general which have to be accessed through an addition network channel, such as NBC, ESPN, or Fox Sports. This makes his partnership the first of its kind in many ways, as it is the first time a professional soccer team has agreed a multi-year deal directly with a streaming service. This actually goes beyond soccer with LAFC noting how the deal represents “the first partnership of its kind in North American professional sports” in general.
Not only will YouTube TV become the ‘exclusive home’ for LAFC matches (as well as additional pre and post shows) but the YouTube TV name and logo will be included on player jerseys. The announcement details while “additional matches” will be available on a national basis through the likes of ESPN and Fox (both of which are also available through YouTube TV), those interested in unfiltered and complete access to all LAFC content during a given season will need to go through a YouTube TV subscription. Furthermore, most, if not all, of that more exclusive content will be geofenced to (only accessible within) the local LA area.
For those unfamiliar with LAFC, this is a brand new team to the MLS as the 2018 will be the team’s debut season in the league and in general. So not only does this deal represent a new and innovative way to consume select soccer content, but it also highlights how a new and emerging sports team is now viewing the benefits of streaming services. As for LAFC’s first game in the MLS, this will be against Seattle Sounders on March 4 although this one will be an ‘away’ fixture and therefore will likely be available nationally through either ESPN or Fox. With the expectation LAFC will make its home debut on April 29 – also against the Sounders – and likely one of the first games to be exclusively shown through YouTube TV.