NASL and One World Sports deal: Good for League – Bad for Fans

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It was announced on Monday that the North American Soccer League has entered a deal for a mid week broadcasting partner with the Cosmos-owned One World Sports. This deal will bring a number of the Wednesday night games from ESPN 3 to the online sports streaming service along with a NASL highlight show.

“Our new partnership with ONE World Sports is another significant step in our development as a top-tier sports enterprise,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said. “ONE World Sports’ incredible production quality and growing viewership footprint make it an ideal network for our new ‘Game of the Week’ concept and weekly highlight show. This addition complements our global streaming partnership with ESPN, as well as our existing local television broadcasts.”

The only positive that is able to be related was this deal was down with the work of Traffic Sports, the ownership group for the Carolina Railhawks but also a group involved in the probe by the FBI investigating FIFA. While it is a step in the right direction for the league to get past the negativity of Traffic, the deal itself hurts the fans more than it helps.

NASL and One World Sports deal: Good for League – Bad for Fans

While the move gives the league more space and air between itself and Traffic, it has a number of issues that it will be faced with in the future:

  • The network of One World Sports is owned by the same ownership group that owns the New York Cosmos. When the ESPN 3 deal was first announced, it was quickly corrected that the Cosmos had their own deal with One World Sports wouldn’t be on ESPN 3. If NASL wants to back away from Traffic Sports, who own the Carolina Railhawks, they probably shouldn’t get involved with another ownership group’s property.
  • The difficulty in finding access to the channel will really hurt the amount of people who get to see the games live. Obviously, the deal that the league signed with One World Sports probably has little to do with viewer count, but for  the league to benefit from this deal the ability to actually access the game will make it difficult for people to watch.
  • Currently, the only information about the actual streaming is from an Indy Eleven  club official that said supporters of Indy Eleven who live in the Indianapolis/Indiana area will be able to watch the club’s two games online for free through One World Sports. Without that, fans league wide will have to pay for either the channel or the ability to watch it on the app.

The deal will show one game a week on the provider as well as give the league it’s own “highlight show.” “As the official broadcast partner of the New York Cosmos for the past two years, we have seen a significant increase in the interest of NASL games due to the tremendous talent on the field,” said Joel Feld, Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, ONE World Sports. “ONE World Sports’ partnership with the league for NASL Wednesday Night Soccer and NASL This Week allows us to continue with our mission of producing compelling live action from around the globe to a domestic audience.”

The deal does show the leagues willingness to branch out and attempt to secure a more national television deal rather than sit back online with their games, the argument is still out whether or not soccer is the sport for online consumption. With as many reporters, blogs, and podcasts there are within the North American Soccer League and the gauging of success the league has done on the deal with ESPN 3 it’s to be seen whether or not this is just a feeling out phrase for a future TV deal or if the league will drop ESPN 3 at the end of the season. Regardless, this is a big change for the league and will be interesting to see develop:

Here is the full schedule for NASL Wednesday Night Soccer on ONE World Sports:

  • July 8 | Carolina RailHawks vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers | 7:30 PM ET
  • July 15 | Minnesota United FC vs. Jacksonville Armada FC | 8:00 PM ET
  • July 22 | Ottawa Fury FC vs. Atlanta Silverbacks | 7:00 PM ET
  • August 5 | New York Cosmos vs. Minnesota United FC | 7:30 PM ET
  • August 12 | Jacksonville Armada FC vs. Carolina RailHawks | 7:30 PM ET
  • August 19 | Indy Eleven vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies | 7:30 PM ET
  • August 26 | Ottawa Fury FC vs. New York Cosmos | 7:00 PM ET
  • September 2 | Minnesota United FC vs. Indy Eleven | 8:00 PM ET
  • September 9 | San Antonio Scorpions vs. Carolina RailHawks | 8:30 PM ET
  • September 16 | Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Jacksonville Armada FC | 7:30 PM ET
  • September 30 | Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven | 7:30 PM ET
  • October 7 | Atlanta Silverbacks vs. New York Cosmos | 7:30 PM ET
  • October 14 | Carolina RailHawks vs. FC Edmonton | 7:30 PM ET
  • October 21 | Jacksonville Armada FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC | 7:30 PM ET