Assessing Year 1, future of NWSL livestreams

Caitlin Murray August 14, 2013 60

NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said the league will address the future of its livestreams in the offseason. (Photo Copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

When the National Women’s Soccer League was announced, an obvious first question for fans was, ‘How can we watch the games?’ FC Kansas City President Brian Budzinski hinted that fans would be “really happy” with the league’s plans.

As it turned out, the league opted to make all games available to watch live and for free, mostly on YouTube. But not everyone was always happy.

Some streams stopped working intermittently during games. Sometimes audio would cut out. Sometimes on-field action was simply hard to see due to low resolution.

The league, which required all teams to provide live streams online, had requested minimum standards: Teams should have setups with three-cameras, the broadcasts should show replays, scores and game clocks should be visible and a minimum bandwidth should be met.

Not all teams met those standards, but most made improvements as the season continued. Sky Blue, for instance, started the season with one of the most basic broadcasts, but slowly added features such as a score display and an additional camera for field reporters.

‘Hiccups’ and changes

NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said with the short timeframe teams had to put together the live streams, “no doubt, hiccups were going to happen.” But she added, “There were some pretty good improvements as the season went on. Some markets did a much better job than others, but that’s not unusual.”

Next season, more improvements are expected, such as more high-definition video quality and higher streaming bandwidths to prevent choppy streams. But final decisions on specific league-wide changes won’t be made until the off-season, Bailey said.

“We want to make sure every week, everyone is having a good live stream to give people access to our product,” Bailey told The Equalizer. “There’s no specific timetable. We have a variety of topics in the league that we have to take a look at and clearly that is one.”

But teams are making their own assessments, too.

Long before Alex Morgan tweeted her frustration at the free stream for the Thorns game in Rochester on Saturday, the Western New York Flash were looking at how to change their setup for next year.

Western New York spent most of the season using a do-it-yourself service called Live Sports Video that provides a web simulcast of the in-stadium video feed. But for their last two games, they switched to YouTube.

The impact was immediate – live viewers increased tenfold. The club will likely continue using YouTube as a platform next season. But bandwidth will need to be increased to accommodate better picture quality.

“We have already discussed how we can improve our live stream for next season, and with a full offseason to work with, we are looking forward to improving for next year,” said team spokeswoman Jackie Maynard. “Obviously, we’re going to go through a few hiccups in our first season, but overall this has been a great endeavor for the NWSL.”

One of the fan-favorite streams this season has been that of Seattle Reign FC. The quality of broadcasts has been high and consistent, but the club pays an outside broadcast company called Bootstrapper Studios to do everything.

Rather, the ideal model is that of the Portland Thorns – all of their video production and streaming is handled in-house, but the result is a high quality product that’s usually free of technical difficulties. The problem for NWSL teams hoping to replicate Portland’s model is that their infrastructure was already in place for a partnered Major League Soccer club, the Portland Timbers. None of the other NWSL teams are partnered with MLS teams.

Thorns FC said it would not be fair to compare their stream to other NWSL teams that lacked the existing infrastructure going into the inaugural season, but added that today’s fans expect HD quality.

“The organization places great emphasis on the quality and availability of our streaming and video elements, across the board,” Thorns FC said in a statement at the request of The Equalizer. “We provide all web streams free of charge and it was important to make it a high quality/HD stream because fan expectations have changed. High definition is now the online standard.”

A pay-per-view solution?

Live broadcasts cost money. The better they are, the more they cost. The league and clubs declined to release information about financials, but according to information obtained by The Equalizer, one team budgeted its low-end live stream operation at $1,500 for the entire season.

One frequently discussed solution is a paid model. The logic goes that by requiring viewers to pay, teams will be able to afford a higher-end broadcast. But a league-wide movement to charge for streams seems unlikely, at least for next year.

The Boston Breakers are the only team to charge in the league’s inaugural year. Breakers general manager Lee Billiard said charging $4.95 per game allowed the club to offset costs and provide one of the higher-quality streams in the league. But a free broadcast appears to be on the horizon.

“From a business standpoint, we did not lose tens of thousands of dollars in year one. The strategy next year will more than likely be to offer the broadcasting at no charge,” Billiard said in an email. “No. 1, because we can prepare for the expense way in advance. And No. 2, we have a product to show sponsors. Sure, we may not have the online numbers that some of the teams have shown across the league, due to us charging, but what I can show is we have a top quality product and league-wide numbers have shown the interest is there in the web streaming.”

Clubs and the league agree – free live streams are a marketing opportunity. Bailey said the NWSL saw the online broadcasts as “a way that would get everyone excited about the National Women’s Soccer League and give them access to the product we have.”

Putting the streams behind a pay wall doesn’t seem conducive to that marketing approach. But the model is a popular one in professional sports. MLS, MLB and the NHL all charge up to $60 per season for live streaming HD access to all out-of-market games.

Bailey isn’t ruling anything out.

“When we get together with the owners to talk through it, any model will be on the table,” Bailey said. “It’s something that we’re going to talk about and see what’s best for the National Women’s Soccer League.”

Finding an online audience

The league-wide average viewership on YouTube is about 7,000 live viewers per match.  As of earlier this month, the NWSL channel had more than 1.2 million views, but a clip of Lisa De Vanna’s stunning bicycle kick goal accounted for about 600,000 of that.

At any given time, the number of viewers displayed during a live match will typically range anywhere from about 1,000 viewers to as much as of 10,000.  The average viewer retention rate is less than a match’s half, but that rate performs well against other videos on YouTube in similar length.

Viewership as of July, according to individual clubs:

  • Seattle Reign averaged about 2,000 viewers per broadcast.
  • Washington Spirit averaged around 3,000 per broadcast.
  • Chicago Red Stars said that information wasn’t immediately available.
  • Sky Blue FC said the club didn’t keep those statistics and deferred to the league.
  • Portland Thorns and KC Kansas City declined to reveal that information.
  • Western New York Flash averaged about 300 per broadcast (pre-YouTube).
  • The Boston Breakers averaged about 400 per broadcast.

There generally weren’t firm expectations for viewership. The digital world the NWSL lives in is in some ways light-years from the days of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), which was founded in 2009 and later folded. The NWSL’s inaugural year would be a baseline around which to build future expectations.

But television remains the ultimate way to reach a mass audience, especially a new audience that won’t go out of their way to find a live stream on the internet.

To wit: Ratings analyst firm Nielsen reported 101,000 viewers watched FC Kansas City beat home team Portland Thorns on Aug. 4. For comparison, that one game reached 8 percent of the total views NWSL’s YouTube channel received all season long by that point. Or to put it another way, the average online broadcast garners just 7 percent of the audience the Aug. 4 TV broadcast did.

The league’s Fox Soccer debut, a Washington loss at Seattle on July 14, averaged 63,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. It was closer ratings-wise to WPS, but a strong showing. And the average online broadcast garners about 11 percent of what that Fox Soccer game did.

League representatives have indicated discussions and decisions about television partnerships for 2014 will be worked out after the season ends.

Live stream breakdown

Boston Breakers

Production: MediaBoss Television

Play-by-play: Scott Sudikoff has experience calling minor league baseball and college sports and currently works as a sports anchor for WEEI Boston

Analyst: Madeline Sattler is a current student at Northeastern University studying sports broadcasting and played soccer for 15 years

Chicago Red Stars

Production: Ollin Omnimedia

Play-by-play: Ben Solomon and Rob Coons

FC Kansas City

Production: Zimmerman Productions

Play-by-play: Sean Wheelock has experience as a broadcaster for Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN covering MLS

Analyst: Missy Geha, a journalism graduate from Kansas University, currently trains with FC Kansas City as a reserve player

Portland Thorns FC

Production: In-house

Play-by-play: Ann Schatz has worked for local broadcaster KOIN, CBS Sports and the Pac-12 Network covering NBA and college basketball

Analyst: Angela Harrison is a former NCAA All-American and two-time W-League champion with the Boston Renegades

Seattle Reign FC

Production: Bootstrapper Studios

Play-by-play: Tom Glasgow is an announcer for ROOT Sports calling Pac-12 football and basketball and currently serves as sports director at KOMO Newsradio

Analyst: Leslie Gallimore is the current head coach for the University of Washington women’s soccer team

Sky Blue FC

Production: In-house

Play-by-play: Bret Leuthner has years of experience calling games for Sky Blue FC and the hockey team New Jersey Outlaws and currently hosts weekly sports shows on MTR Radio online

Analyst: Erik Studnicky is currently the assistant men’s soccer coach at Drew University and previously served as assistant coach at Rutgers University

Washington Spirit

Production: In-house

Play-by-play: Michael Minnich is editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and previously called games for the Washington Freedom and at West Virginia University

Analyst: Danielle Malagari played for the University of Maryland and is former captain of D.C. United

Western New York

Production: Live Sports Video

Play-by-play: Joe Guiliano calls Rochester Rhinos home games for the United Soccer League and has called the Rochester Lancers for the Major Indoor Soccer League

Analyst: Mike Kirmse is a retired soccer player who played for the Buffalo Blizzard, Rochester Rhinos and in Germany

  • Silver Frost

    So, Alex was right.

    • laura taylor

      As was Merritt.

    • laura taylor

      As was Merritt.

  • Michelle

    Great stuff. As much as I may sometimes join in the complaining about the quality of the streams and the sometimes horrible announcers (I’m looking at you, WNY… still haven’t forgiven you for talking poorly about players in the first game of the year), I am so grateful that I am able to watch as many games as I desire.

    • ROOTchino

      I just wanted to say I completely agree with you and I am very grateful to have been able to watch as many games as I did this season. It’s just frustrating to me as someone with over a decade in the IT Support industry to see situations like this because I know how companies are run and no one wants to spend the money until they need to. All I can hope is this constructive criticism can help push the league to improve, I want this to be something I am proud to share with all of my friends.

    • Church

      If WNY had better technical production, the broadcasts would have been excellent. Joe Guilliano and Mike Kirmse are a solid team. Sorry….Seattle, Portland and KC, but your announcers painted a poor picture of reality. They seemed scared to offer honest, professional and fair commentary. There was very little balance for both teams. You can be a bit of a homer, but not to extent of risking credibility. IMO

  • STT

    One thing not mentioned: Chicago needs to be given major props for putting up TWO streams of each game, one stream in Spanish. That’s dedication to the fans.

    • CW in LA

      True, although the announcing on the English stream, especially at the beginning of the season was pretty embarrassing – referring to the players as ‘girls’, shout-outs to the announcers’ relatives, etc.

  • ROOTchino

    I was surprised to learn there were even standards setup for Streaming prior to the start of the league. It’s obvious a lot of teams didn’t feel they needed to meet this due to how much of a rush everyone was to get things started at the beginning of the season. But they will have no excuse come next season.

    It seems the majority of awful streams could have been solved with a basic HD camera and a cable modem. I’m not sure if they were over complicating things trying to convert old production equipment into the setup or what… but Youtube is not hard, a child could figure it out. Thousands of teens still in high school live stream everyday to their subscribers, some channels with many many more viewers than NWSL has and they have no bandwidth issues with a simple home connection and an HD webcam.

    I understand they want to keep things free to get the word out on the league but you have to ask: if you can’t even see the players on the pitch what are you marketing exactly? If anything it tells fans this league is cash-strapped. I would love to see the NWSL step in and budget a broadcast credit to the teams to help offset the costs and force everyone to use standardized equipment and approved bandwidth lines across the board. This is how we do it in IT Consulting. Keeping all the equipment identical for multiple branch offices make things infinitely easier for setup, troubleshooting and new installs. Yes there is a higher inital investment but it is repaid 10 fold with the quality and stability you are going to see. With that I’d gladly pay a yearly fee for DVR style HD access to all games and would feel many people would be too, maybe offer a “game of the week” style free match.

    That would be the type of thing to get more people into the league, when I can have some friends over, drink some beers, hook up my PC and proudly stream this on my TV. Right now I feel like many fans (outside of Seattle/Portland) are just too embarrassed to show anyone this product and instead silently suffer watching alone in their bedroom.

    • http://sashaverma.com/ sushita

      Agreed. I would,also, be more than happy to pay for a season pass to watch the matches. If the cost was a good price I can see people gladly paying for it, and keeping up with the matches that way. Plus, I was unable to watch quite a few of the games, so it’d probably average out cost-per-game wise.

    • Alyse

      ROOTchino, your statements about how ‘easy’ it is to webcast via YouTube just aren’t reality for us. We’re talking about live-action games here. When Chicago first had to convert to the YouTube platform (as requested by the league) we had massive struggles. If something goes wrong in the middle of a YouTube stream guess what you have to do? You have to call their 1-800 number and wait for someone to pick up. We don’t receive dedicated help from YouTube because we’re ‘too small’ for them. It created a lot of issues for us early on (and pissed off fans, of course). YouTube isn’t a magical answer for this in any way shape or form.

      We use the same webcast team we used when we were at Toyota Park, but at TP we could leech into their current infrastructure. It’s much different at these smaller venues and there’s issues from streaming bandwidth to cameras etc etc. Chicago, like most other teams I’m sure, is looking into ways we can continue to evolve this platform and make it top-notch for the fans (and still free), but it’s not as simple as you are making it out to be.

      • ROOTchino

        I appreciate the insider reply Alyse, by no means did I mean to say it is easy and requires nothing but plug and play knowledge to stream a live game. I just mentioned that lots of young adults without jobs in the broadcast field have also been doing this live at home without issues.

        If you go to http://www.youtube.com/live/ right now you can see people all over the world with live broadcasts of many things, from a simple discussion, to sporting matches to live video games. You can tell many of these are not crazy high-end setups. If you are looking at it from the YouTube technical side it’s very basic. You just need a video and a stable internet connection. Of course if you are wanting to add multiple cameras, video overlays, replay, commentary audio in ENG/SPA that’s when it gets complicated. (personally I could careless about any of this fancy stuff, I would be happy with one HD camera on a tripod looking over the field with no commentary as long as I don’t have to try and figure out which white blob passed the ball to the other white blob)

        But truth be told, if you are calling their support line for help during a live Broadcast my only thought can be that some members of the broadcast team are not as tech savvy as they need to be or have been out of the loop for too long. (I’m sure there are many college interns who would love to help out on this level). By no means is YouTube a perfect platform but I’m willing to bet 98% of the technical issues this league may have with it are user errors or inadequate equipment and not with Google’s servers or software. This is why I would like to see the league push (and assist teams with a broadcast credit) to standardize all the equipment. When everyone is working with the same thing, troubleshooting becomes cake and you can call the NWSL when there is problems instead of waiting on Google who really has no obligation to support users who are using a free streaming service.

        • Steglitz49

          The NWSL is not the only women’s soccer league in the world. How is this done in other parts of the world where women play soccer? What systems do they use? Are their customers satisfied? Why not give the German Federation or the FA a call?

          Women wanting to play pro-soccer are a downtrodden tribe. One option would be to pool their experiences and knowledge from around the globe rather than reinventing the squirrel-wheel, not to speak of the lemming version?

      • nwslfan

        Props to Chicago. Red Stars org in particular has lots of entertaining videos uploaded + the Red Stars game webstreams as of Aug are quite good as a free product. you are making it look easy, so thank you! and thanks to all the teams allowing us fans access to see the games. I appreciate the replays, showing the time and the score etc. THANK YOU!!!

      • nwslfan

        Props to Chicago. Red Stars org in particular has lots of entertaining videos uploaded + the Red Stars game webstreams as of Aug are quite good as a free product. you are making it look easy, so thank you! and thanks to all the teams allowing us fans access to see the games. I appreciate the replays, showing the time and the score etc. THANK YOU!!!

  • kernel_thai

    Very comprehensive look at the problems and solutions. My personal opinions r as follows. 1) Keep it free. Time overlap excepted, I pretty much watched every NWSL game this year live, except for the Boston games. I watched those as well but waited the two days for the upload to the Breakers Youtube channel. If all the teams had a pay per view I likely would have only watched the few games I was really interested in. 2) Keep it simple for fans and it sounded like Youtube was the way to go. 3) Keep everything the same. If a team has the same equipment and set up as everyone else it much easier for them to get help if there is a problem. 4) NWSL has to enforce the minimum standards not just suggest them.

  • Arsenal Ladies Fan

    Be nice to have better streaming but I’m not inclined to complain (to much!) as it’s free (I wait for the Boston free upload) But if I may be so bold as to point out there are a lot of people overseas who want to watch & being in England can’t watch any of the games on Fox, even days later. So be nice to have both & personally I’d pay to watch but at my age can’t be staying up until the early hours! (“;)

  • Steglitz49

    Maybe it is worth checking out how the German teams run their live-streams and how the German Federation runs its TV? In some European countries a match is live on TV each week, but it tends to be on some obscure subscription or pay-per view channel.

  • Guesr

    Great article, thanks! The streams have been a HUGE part of this league and will continue to be since obviously the majority of fans can’t attend games that aren’t in their area. I personally would not mind paying for the streams and supporting the league – but I rarely paid for Boston Breakers games because the stream was such poor quality. Since they were the only team that charged I expected at the very least for the quality to match the free streams and it almost always didn’t. The league needs to take the livestreams seriously if they really want to increase the fan base and support. With the exception of Portland (who has an obvious advantage) and Seattle, most of them are embarrassingly bad.

  • MMMM

    The Breakers claiming that they put out a high quality product, despite charging, is laughable.

    • Amy Brookheimer

      I chuckled when I read that, too. I purchased the first 4(!) Breakers games. Each were borderline unwatchable, so I stopped buying them. The club’s ability to capture a HQ feed and upload it 2 days later, for free viewing, doesn’t mean that paying customers are getting a HQ livestream. They aren’t because of obvious bandwidth problems that don’t exist when you’re in an office uploading to YouTube servers.

  • romel dias

    i think Youtube was a phenomenal concept..because the audience has come from across the globe.

    it cannot be compared to anything that has happened before simply because the league itself was poorly marketed at the start. Add to that very poor broadcasts at the beginning of the season…the absence of Pinoe, Heath, and maybe the biggest draw -Hope!

    There is definitely going to be a much bigger impact the next year…esp if the technicalities are sorted and if the NWSL can keep their stars.

    I would suggest that the televised matches should also be streamed albeit with a delay esp for international audiences.

  • JD

    101,000 viewers for FCKC & Thorns on FOX Soccer is a pretty good number. Will be interesting to see what the playoffs and championship get on the new FOX Sports 1.

  • kernel_thai

    Props and positives. These r things I do like and things maybe every team should try. My fav broadcast team is Tom Glasgow and Leslie Gallimore. Glasgow is very professional with PbyP and Gallimore brings the most expertise as analyst IMO. I also like how Gallimore gets interesting guests to fill the halftime. Chicago also has an interesting take on filling the dead time with Ella & Carm or Ella & Erin or Ella & an empty chair. Anything is better than a shot of the field. Sky Blue does a nice job with a pre game and halftime analysis from Dan & Dani. I cant believe any of those options have much production cost yet each adds a lot to the show. STT mentioned that only Chicago has Spanish audio despite football being a popular game throughout the world. I also like that Portland has a radio broadcast for their games. A large percentage of the potential audience would never try and tackle a web stream but would tune in on radio. I think the league has to look at all the good ideas and try to incorporate them into an overall plan for all their teams.

  • TexasSoccerFan

    Since we don’t have a team in Texas, it has been great to have free access to the games on YouTube. I think it would be a big mistake to make it pay per view. Build your base. Don’t get greedy. The number of YouTube views of most games looks pretty respectful. Keep the momentum going. A more consistent product would definitely help, including the game announcers. Seattle and Portland are great. Others sound like college interns and actually harm the experience of watching the game.

    • Steglitz49

      The first expansion team must be placed in Texas. There are good grounds for placing the second team there also.

      Put on those ten gallon hats and fight for your right: at least one team in texas!

      • Lorehead

        Steglitz, the NWSL is not going to expand to Mexico. Not for the foreseeable future. That said, a team near Texas A&M and the Houston Dynamo could make sense.

        • Steglitz49

          From Texas to Las Vegas to LA or San Diego or, even, Sacramento though the Central Valley is awfully hot.

          • Lorehead

            You just listed a number of places where most soccer fans are Latino. The women’s game just hasn’t caught on with them yet. L.A. is a big enough market, and the Galaxy successful enough in the absence of any NFL team, that it could be worth expanding into, but I would approach from the north and not the east.

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken but with the demographic changes on the West Coast, it raises a number of issues for women’s pro-soccer in USA.

            Also, given how large the Latino proportion of USA’s population is, failing to develop that segment is not an option, unless the aim of pro-soccer in USA is to be some sort of finishing-school and paid summer-camp for WASPs (Waspettes? — Vespas?).

          • Lorehead

            Queen bees.

            Other people don’t especially need me to tell them what to do with their free time. As you say, there are a lot of people moving to the West Coast from Mexico and Central America, and if they want to watch Liga MX on Univision instead of the soccer teams here in town they can go see live, it’s really none of my business. The Timbers have started to schedule friendlies against Mexican teams, to get the Mexican fans interested, and even though the rules were the same, the differences in style turned the first friendly very unfriendly. Let’s not even go into how far Chivas USA went for its Mexican fans. (That team is a serious embarrassment and needs to be shut down.)

            Besides, several members of the Mexican women’s national team are Mexican-Americans who learned soccer in the U.S. and are going or have gone to college here, so it is catching on with the second generation.

            One of the factors that’s helped soccer catch on with girls is that they can get college scholarships for it, so if you had more young Latinas heading to college and their parents pushing for the kind of activities that get them there, one of the many beneficial effects would be more girls playing sports. It’s a complicated situation and one I wish I understood better.

          • Silver Frost

            Most Latin girls shun playing any sport, let alone futbol. Getting a job, having children, are the priority in Latin culture, not futbol. The males feel differently: machismo says futbol is part of a man’s identity. This is true for South America, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France. There is more support for women’s futbol in Germany than for all of the Latins combined.

          • Lorehead

            Well, there are a lot of differences between those countries you listed, especially France. And then there are the differences between girls of Spanish and Portuguese descent born in Europe, Latin America and the U.S.

            But as far as marketing to Latinos goes, the NWSL does allocate the MWNT players, giving them exposure. If it had the budget for it, some Spanish-language promotion would probably be a good idea. But Latinas playing soccer is an aspect of assimilation, and that’s a slow process.

          • Steglitz49

            The most obvious thing about the NWSL is that the Allocated MWNT players get a lot less exposure than either the Canadians or Americans. It would be interesting to see the statistics of this first season set out in a meaningful way but I think that the followers of the Equalizer would be frightened by the figures.

          • Lorehead

            It was the Mexican federation that decided to pull the two players allocated to Portland, which is unfortunate, and therefore they ended up with no exposure to the Portland fans at all. My guess would be that fans in the U.S., who watched women’s soccer in the Olympics, saw a lot of Team Canada but not Team Mexico.

          • Steglitz49

            There is a statistical quip that says “if you torture the data long enough, eventually it will confess”. (For the benefit of any pedants reading the Equalizer comments, I know that data are plural but the expression usually has “it” in it.) Reading the Equalizer, one would be forgiven for believing that there are only two Mexican players in the NWSL, to wit Ms Cuellar and Santiago, unless one mistook the Spaniard Adriana Martín.

            The question is how best to set out the data. I would favor some simple tabular format such as number of players who actually took up their allocated slots, how many matches they started, how many they came on as subs in, number of minutes played, plus a comment field which would have simple explanations like “injured in the third match”, “abandoned NWSL because of family reasons”, “jailed for blasphemy” etc.

          • Lorehead

            “Abandoned NWSL because of family reasons” is one way to put what Amy Rodriguez did. (She’s another example of soccer taking off with Latinas and how they aren’t a monolithic group; she’s Cuban-American on her father’s side.)

            When you consider just how close the standings have been, I really doubt any coach let that kind of thing get in the way of winning games.

          • Steglitz49

            “I really doubt any coach let that kind of thing get in the way of winning games” — I do not share your view (as you may have noticed over the months).

            Were I the Mexican federation, I would reduce my Allocation slots to 8 for next season. Instead, I would inquire of teams in good leagues about placing another 8 players in teams who would play them.

          • Lorehead

            It was actually the Mexican federation that pulled several of its players out, another good league would not be any more interested in them without subsidy, and anyway, many of those players are U.S. dual citizens and the coaches wouldn’t even have thought of them as being foreign.

            If there’s a problem, the first thing I would try would be to make the subsidy contingent on my allocated players getting minutes. Make it, for example, that I’ll pick up a thousand dollars of her salary per game she plays in or you only get your check if she gets enough time. But I’m not sure there is.

          • Steglitz49

            Do you really think that a team in the Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian or Dutch leagues would turn down a player for free (or highly subsidized) the only condition being that she must play a reasonable amount of games and minutes?

            The Japanese do this. Their players abroad have money paid into an account in Japan for them. Thus it costs foreign teams less to have them. The French, being clueless, do not play their Japanese players enough, so the subsidy to the player is cut, and she returns home to Japan (or goes elsewhere).

          • Lorehead

            Right, but if you’re going to subsidize the teams anywhere, it might as well be in the United States. Which is where a lot of the Mexican internationals in the NWSL grew up and went to school anyway.

          • Steglitz49

            There is at least one Mexican player, Santiago, that did not get much play time in spite of her being no worse than those who played in goal instead by the stats. Incidentally, that coach was sacked.

          • Lorehead

            Yes, but Alyssa Naeher was a U.S. international who’d done well in WPS, played in Germany and won the U-20 World Cup.. Ashley Phillips is not just a U.S. international, but she’s from the Boston area. Of course she’s going to be a fan favorite. Cecilia Santiago was better than Phillips in her three starts, and not clearly better or worse than Naeher, but she’s also only 18 and had no college or club experience, although she was the youngest player to start in the Algarve Cup and Women’s World Cup. I’d argue that says more about the lack of depth on the Mexican WNT than about what a phenom she is. A player her age in America would get at least four years’ more development before going pro.

          • Steglitz49

            Cecilia Santiago was an allocated player and an internationa goalie, and both she and her federation, which is a co-founder of the NWSL, deserved some respect. I doubt that KC or Portland would have missed that trick. KC, for example, traded their allocated Mexican striker.

            The Boston coach is no longer there, so some justice was done, though that is little consolation for Mexico or their first choice goalie.

          • Steglitz49

            A certain Carolina Morace scored 4 goals at Wembley in a match against England in 1990. Pia Sundhage scored the first goal ever by a woman on the hallowed Wembley turf (as in grass).

            Nevertheless, you are correct that the ladies game has not developed hardly at all in Portugal in spite of the Algarve cup. Likewise, it is only recently that the ladies are getting going in Spain, though attendances at matches are still poor, about on par with England. Whether the Brazilian federation will get bind their ladies for Rio-16 (and by extension WC-15) remains to be seen. Colombia might be a better bet.

            The problem for ladies’ soccer is the same the world over: how to get bums on seats in stadia.

          • Steglitz49

            Many of the members of the WNT of the Philippines are American ladies with enough Philippine ancestry to qualify.

            I think that the State Dept and foreign aid systems of USA should support women’s soccer in the 3rd and 2nd world as a new aspect of human interaction and international development. Something like the JoLi Acadmy could be a starting point.

      • hercircumstance

        As someone living in Texas I am predicting California and Colorado first. Both have a lot more history with woso and would fill in the west coast road trip. Colorado is a nice bridge for Kansas City. I see Texas and the south east happening more in the third year if we get that far.

        • Steglitz49

          Why do you say Colorado? I think a team in Colorado would be a capital idea.

          What would be their names? The Colorado Hyrax? Hardly the Muledeer?

          Denver is at one mile high. Would altitude not handicap the visiting teams? Colorado Springs is, presumably, even higher? Where would they play? At the Broadmoor? In the Valley of the Rocks? At the Airforce Academy?

          • Lorehead

            Actually, the Colorado Rapids already have a sister club, the Colorado Rapids Women, who play in the W-league and at least some of the time in their stadium. If the men’s team wanted it promoted to the NWSL, I see no reason why not.

          • Lorehead

            As for names, I personally think “Colorado Arroyo” contrasts with Rapids and rolls off the tongue. If you’re looking for some local flavor: Firebrands, after an early name for the Colorado River; Powerhouses, after Hoover Dam; Summit, after the Rocky Mountains; Grand Dames, after the canyon; Razorbacks, after the endangered fish; (But doesn’t it sound intimidating?)

  • nwslfan

    Can NWSL cut a deal with ESPN or does the Fox deal preclude? I enjoyed watching WNT games and wms UEFA Euro 2013 on espn3. espn is excellent at live coverage, from the biggest games to obscure girls high school basketball…

    • Lorehead

      Presumably once the Fox Soccer deal runs out, but when is that? By the way, that was a great MNT game.

  • Pressured

    1. “Breakers general manager Lee Billiard said charging $4.95 per game allowed the club to offset costs and provide one of the higher-quality streams in the league.”
    Bologna! The stream would skip, and I couldn’t rewind. I could actually watch the game clock and see missing seconds.
    2. How about a NWSL league weekly highlight video, celebrations included?

  • nwslfan

    I see no sign that fox will have live (or replay) game content on web. http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/world/story/all-you-need-to-know-about-fox-soccer-and-fox-sports-1-080113

    However, ESPN does both TV (cable) and internet content. here is an interesting discussion of the power of espn and the upcoming battle w fox. http://www.thebiglead.com/index.php/2013/07/18/fox-sports-1-vs-espn-spinning-events-so-they-feel-significant-is-a-massive-challenge/

    • Jane

      When the league gets to work on next years TV contract, they MUST negotiate to have games streamed LIVE from the broadcast network. No real fan wants to watch the game the next day. I bought FoxSoccer2go with the expectation that I would be able to watch the games online. I was sorely disappointed to learn the game replays were delayed until the following day. I will be canceling before my next month comes up for sure.

      • Lorehead

        Er, the whole point of a cable sports TV station is that people have to get the station to watch the programs live. It would be absolutely great if they got a contract with one of the ESPN channels that included live-streaming, and who knows? Maybe the 2015 WWC or the 2016 OG will be enough of a hit that they’ll be interested.

  • Diane (DeeG)

    I’m also happy for streaming of the games and especially happy for all the international fans. I love a free stream, but admit I paid for all the Boston streams because they are my team, not because of the quality. At first I tried to defend them charging, but as the season went on and streams didn’t improve I gave up. I look forward to what the league comes up with.

  • Justin Prazak

    Thank you NWSL so much for streaming games online! I think for the time being it is pivotal in building a wide and deep fanbase.

    I love it, especially since I’m nowhere near any NWSL team, much less my NWSL team.

  • Venus

    Boston charging for their live streams was a disappointment. If the games are going to be streamed, it should be consistent quality and parameters across the league. Perhaps one way of subsidizing is that season ticket holders could have access to streams to all the games, and non-season ticket holders could purchase packages of a certain number of games/season pass/$1 per game or something to that effect.

  • C.Y.

    Very thankful for the opportunity to get to see the majority of these games for free, but I wish every team could use Bootstrapper Studios…that is all.