Count D.C. United as the latest MLS franchise that will forego television and stream its games online. The Washington Post reports that starting this season, D.C. United will be streaming its games on FloSports, a subscription-based online streaming service.
This comes in DC’s first full season with Wayne Rooney, the Premier League legend who dragged the club to a playoff berth last season after he arrived from Everton in the summer.
The contract with FloSports calls for 21 of D.C. United’s 34 games to be streamed online. The others will be shown nationally on an ESPN or Fox network. Previously, D.C. United had aired its games locally in the Washington market either on cable through NBC Sports Washington or WJLA’s Newschannel 8 platform. The team elected not to continue with either platform and made the choice to go with FloSports, with the deal running through 2022.
In addition to the live games, FloSports will offer pregame and postgame shows, weekly shows featuring Rooney (and presumably other DC United players), and offseason specials. All this will be available to FloSports subscribers on mobile devices, smart TVs, tablets, and computers.
The FloSports deal was made to not only appeal to a more mobile audience, but also to an audience that has cut the cord on traditional pay TV:
“The decision was very much based on what our options were and what was going to be best for our fans to really connect with the team,” said Sam Porter, United’s senior Vice President for business and legal affairs. “What FloSports is going to offer is more in-depth coverage and story lines around the team on a year-round basis.
“When you look at all the cord-cutting that is going on, it’s really not as radical as it would have been a couple of years ago.”
It addition to offering D.C. United games, FloSports offers a variety of other sports, including bowling, European basketball, motorsports, MMA, wrestling, and Big Ten sports not available on Big Ten Network. The service costs either $30/month or $150 per year, but D.C. United plans to offer a yearly and monthly subscription for its package of games, though no price has been offered as of yet.
D.C. United joins LAFC (YouTube TV) and the Chicago Fire (ESPN+) in streaming their games exclusively online. Orlando City and Seattle also have deals to stream games, but those deals compliment existing TV deals.
With D.C. United making the move to completely go online for its local media deal, we’ll see if other MLS teams follow their lead when their local rights deals end.