In a ground-breaking move for domestic soccer, MLS confirmed a story first published by Bloomberg News regarding the fate of MLS LIVE. MLS LIVE was the $80 live streaming and on demand service MLS fans could use to watch matches not broadcasted on local television. Starting in the spring, MLS will no longer being offering its own online streaming solution. Instead, MLS will be expanding their partnership with ESPN to bring every out-of-market match to screens big and small.
ESPN+, a forthcoming second screen streaming service from the struggling sports casting giant, will be the exclusive out-of-market streaming partner of MLS in the United States. When it launches in the spring, it will offer multiple live and on-demand sports options, including golf, baseball, soccer, and hockey. For just $4.99, the serious sports fans who crave MLS action will get access to multiple sports for less, not just MLS. This represents a 25% decrease in year over year cost, while offering more content on a more reliable platform.
If ESPN+ uses ESPN’s current WatchESPN technology, they will be use the industry leading streaming technology of MLB Advanced Media, the offshoot technology group of Major League Baseball. MLB Advanced Media’s industry leading scaled video streaming technology has been adapted for use by other customers, such as WatchESPN and HBO Now. Basically, this means MLS LIVE on ESPN+ will be much more reliable going forward with the latest in streaming technology.
While the streaming service will not be available in time for March 3rd, MLS will have our backs by streaming all out of market games for free on mlssoccer.com. With new technology, more sports content, a more centralized platform, and a lower price, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ is an all-around win for all MLS fans, and for the continued growth of the league as a whole. MLS Live may not benefit local Orlando City fans looking to stream the match on their phones, but it will come as welcome upgrade for consumption by out of market fan Lions fans and pure soccer fans in the City Beautiful.