For many of us, our viewing of the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and other European competitions is made possible by a robust, premium online portal known as FOXSoccer2Go. The evolution of that product has been long and often problematic, but it has developed to the point now where we receive the top leagues live, on-demand, and on a few different devices.
Thankfully, Major League Soccer is getting on board with this idea, and the emergence of their latest product, MLS Live, certainly sounds like domestic football’s equivalent to FOXSoccer’s product. The good news is that this product should have even more access options.
MLS Live will be accessible through your PC or laptop, as to be expected. There will also be apps for your iPad and iPhone. But MLS Digital has gone even farther than FS2Go. They will continue to support their channel through Roku, and will also introduce an app native to Panasonic televisions. If there is one thing that would improve FOXSoccer2Go at this point, it would be these types of platforms that more readily work with your television. MLS Live is moving in that direction.
With these additional applications, MLS Live is also touting an HD-quality stream. Time will tell whether this kind of resolution will be attained and remain stable for long periods of time. We won’t pass any judgment until the product rolls off the skids.
One down-side for the product is that it is a premium service, and thus there is a cost. For my money, $59.99 for a full season of soccer is very reasonable. It’s cheaper than my renewal price for MLS DirectKick, and it’s making me consider dropping the Sunday Ticket-esque package. Of course I don’t own a Roku or a Panasonic television, but it might be worth the investment to buy the Roku interface, especially if there’s any chance that FOXSoccer2Go will one day make its way to Roku.
The major complaint from one segment of American soccer fans is that paying a premium price for a lower quality league is undesirable. Even ardent MLS supporters will likely agree that the brand of football carried on FOXSoccer2Go is better in quality. But that gap is closing with every passing year.
With all that said, I think MLS has shown a desire to reach out to the fan, and that says something. Between the preseason matches that have been streamed through the MLS website, the incorporation of Opta statistics within the framework of the site, and now what appears to be a significant upgrade in their multimedia portal, MLS is making their content more accessible than ever, and in better quality.
What would be the next steps for MLS Live in my opinion?
- More platforms for watching games would allow the product to reach more people.
- Allowing access on-demand for viewing MLS Reserve matches, or at the very least highlights.
- Other content that would give hardcore fans a reason to subscribe – segments such as tactics talks, interviews with players and coaches, in-depth vignettes about each stadium, and other top-quality pieces that add value to the product.
- Coupling the two products, MLS Direct Kick and MLS Live, for a package price so that fans without HD streaming options can still watch matches through their satellite, cable, or FIOS provider…but also access paywall content when matches are not scheduled.
It’s a great era to be a soccer fan. These online developments fit well with the introduction of the newest home of Major League Soccer, the NBC family of networks. Whether portable on your iPad, streaming through your Roku, or transmitted on your local NBC affiliate, Major League Soccer has the opportunity to reach more people than ever. And that’s good for the game, and good for America.