YouTube TV and the Los Angeles Football Club just announced a deal to stream the team’s games in LA. The YouTube LAFC tieup is the first time a sports team has picked a streaming service over a local TV station or regional cable channel.
Today’s announcement makes YouTube TV the “Official Live TV Partner” of LAFC. In addition to the locally-televised games, YouTube TV will carry nationally-broadcast games on ESPN, Fox and FS1.
This is an historic break from traditional sports broadcasting. Major league teams have always worked with local TV stations or regional cable channels. Those relationships let local fans watch their teams play in games that the national networks didn’t carry. The LAFC deal with YouTube TV changes that.
LAFC’s president Tom Penn explained that the deal provides “our fans with a new and creative way to watch all of LAFC’s matches in one place during our inaugural season.”
A Geo-restricted Deal
Newness and creativity doesn’t mean the deal makes LAFC games available to everyone. YouTube TV must geofence the dedicated LAFC channel. That restricts viewing only to people watching in Los Angeles. Angelenos who travel won’t be allowed to watch local LAFC matches.
In addition, the deal is English-only. It doesn’t cover Spanish-language broadcasts which LAFC is negotiating separately.
Angelenos will see a dedicated LAFC channel in their YouTube TV listings. Thirty minutes of programming will appear before and after each match. Variety reports that more LAFC-related content may be available on demand.