LAFC has a unique TV deal.
Google’s first venture into streaming a live sports event takes place today with the Seattle Sounders-LAFC Major League Soccer match. The LAFC ownership signed a first of a kind deal with the Google owned service last month which gives YouTube the right to exclusively stream LAFC contests. The Sounders-LAFC game will also be on ESPN. The first YouTube standalone game will be on April 13 when LAFC plays Vancouver. It will be the first game that LAFC will produce and place on YouTube. The game will stream only in the Los Angeles market. In total, 18 LAFC contests will be on YouTube and all 18 will be a test to see if Google and YouTube can compete with regional sports networks for the rights to games and whether the Google entry into the business can be a game changer. YouTube pay subscribers will not be charged extra for the programming, YouTube is selling a $35 monthly skinny TV package.
Signing the deal was the easy part. YouTube is streaming games and will have its name on the LAFC shirts. The difficult part is revenue and how that will be generated. LAFC and YouTube will try and sell ads. But there is a major difference between YouTube and regional sports channels. Because of the 1984 Cable TV Act, regional sports networks were able to collect subscriber fees from virtually the entire cable TV universe and used that money to sign up sports organizations and teams’ cable TV rights. YouTube is in a different financial world as it will not get fees from people who never watch LAFC games. YouTube is making a major move into sports. Last year, YouTube signed a deal with Major League Baseball to be the presenting sponsor of the 2017 World Series. Amazon and Twitter have had NFL deals and Facebook has streaming sports properties. The sports viewing world is changing.
TV is old technology.