YouTube TV, the Google-owned video site’s over-the-top pay-TV service, is the first digital-only offering to become the official video partner of a US sports team. YouTube is partnering with Los Angeles FC, the newly created Major League Soccer team in the area, in a multiyear deal that will grant YouTube TV subscribers exclusive access to locally televised games on all channels YouTube offers. YouTube TV’s logo will also be placed on LAFC jerseys, while the company will provide LAFC with on-site studio resources for a 30-minute pre- and post-game show.
The deal marks the first time an OTT service has inked a live-streaming exclusivity deal with a sports team — something typically reserved for local affiliates under Fox or CBS. That means the deal may inspire other local sports franchises to broker similar deals with the growing number of cable alternatives populating the digital media landscape. “This truly is a historic day for our club,” Tom Penn, the LAFC owner and president, said in a statement today. “YouTube TV is an ambitious and innovative brand that we are proud to showcase on the front of our jersey and in our community. We are excited to provide our fans with a new and creative way to watch all of LAFC’s matches in one place during our inaugural season.”
As one might expect with locally broadcast sports telecasts, the particulars of the YouTube TV deal are a bit complex. For one, the broadcasts will be geofenced to the LA area, so only YouTube TV subscribers in that specific market can access these games. However, you won’t have to watch LAFC games on one dedicated channel. Games will be available on local networks, including KABC 7, CBS 2, KTTV Fox 11, and KNBC 4, alongside cable networks like ESPN and local sports networks like NBC Sports and Fox Sports. Local games are exclusive to YouTube TV subscribers, but nationally televised matches will be accessible on cable networks even if you don’t pay for YouTube TV. That said, there will be a dedicated LAFC channel to bundle everything together and make it easy to find on the service.