February 1, 2018
According to Variety, “YouTube TV has secured exclusive rights to games with a new Major League Soccer team in Los Angeles, marking the first time a streaming service of any kind has made such a deal with a U.S. pro sports team instead of a TV alternative.” YouTube TV will also have naming rights to the Los Angeles Football Club’s jerseys when the team joins MLS next month. The games will be restricted to YouTube TV subscribers in the LA market, who will not be charged extra for access to the games (beyond the standard $35 per month subscription fee).
“While all LAFC games for the upcoming season will be available live on YouTube TV, about half of them are nationally televised games, the rights to which have been purchased by ESPN or Fox Sports 1,” notes Variety. “Both of those channels are already carried by YouTube TV. Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.”
Rather than producing on its own, YouTube TV is teaming with MLS and LAFC for play-by-play game coverage, pre- and post-game shows. Additional content may be made available on demand.
“When we talk about innovation, it goes beyond a traditional distribution deal and really looking at programming for LAFC fans both on and off the field,” said YouTube TV and YouTube Originals global head of marketing Angela Courtin (former Fox Broadcasting marketing head). “We think it’s going to be groundbreaking.”
“While a major-market MLS team is far from the most valuable set of rights on the market,” suggests Variety, “the YouTube TV coup comes as the competition for these game packages is escalating between traditional media companies and tech giants who have taken an increasing interest in bidding them away because of their value to advertisers and audiences.”
“This truly is a historic day for our club,” announced LAFC owner and president Tom Penn. “YouTube TV is an ambitious and innovative brand that we are proud to showcase on the front of our jersey and in our community. We are excited to provide our fans with a new and creative way to watch all of LAFC’s matches in one place during our inaugural season.”
The new 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium on Figueroa Street in downtown LA will be home to LAFC. The franchise’s ownership group is led by Mandalay Entertainment chief exec Peter Guber, entrepreneur Henry Nguyen and former NBA exec Tom Penn. Among the additional owners are Chad Hurley, Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins and Will Ferrell. The team’s head coach is Bob Bradley.