Being a fan of lower-division soccer often carries an expectation of a lower standard of play and presentation. But for fans of the North American Soccer League (NASL), one upside to this has been free online streaming of matches. Now, that is coming to an end, but the league is betting that a newly designed website, with numerous bells and whistles, will be enough to entice fans to pay a $4.99 per month subscription fee.
When Bill Peterson became commissioner of the NASL nearly 14 months ago, one of his stated goals was improving the league’s Internet presence. That aim takes a large step ahead today with the launch of the NASL’s revamped website, which will link the league and all its member clubs under a unified digital platform.
Whether soccer fans will queue up to pay nearly five dollars a month to watch NASL matches online remains an open question whose answer will largely hinge on whether the broadcast quality of matches improves along with its online platform. While clubs like the Carolina RailHawks and New York Cosmos offer widely approved game webcasts, other teams continue to struggle with the quality of their production and on-air talent. Developing uniform broadcast standards must go hand-in-hand with the improvement of the league’s online presence in order to lure premium content subscribers.
According to the league’s press release, the new website
is the product of a new partnership between the NASL and PERFORM, a multimedia sports content distributor that owns one of the largest digital sports rights portfolios, including Goal.com, through contracts covering more than 200 sports and their associated leagues, tournaments and events.
Beyond the new website's streamlined appearance and accessibility, the biggest change for NASL fans is that heretofore free live streaming of league matches will now feature as part of a monthly subscription package that will include live and archived matches, as well as the promise of “additional premium video content,” all for a monthly fee of $4.99.
The website also promises game day features such as a Match Center where fans can view live stats and interact via social media while watching streaming matches.
“We are investing in enhancing our live streaming of matches and are making them available as part of a monthly league-wide subscription package that we believe offers great value,” said NASL Commissioner Peterson in a statement. “Sporting events around the world are increasingly being viewed via online platforms and this partnership with PERFORM will push the NASL to the forefront of how soccer fans access matches in the future.”
The new NASL.com goes live today, and individual club websites revamped for the PERFORM network will go online over the coming weeks.