Amanda Duffy defers on NWSL streaming details

Dan Lauletta April 12, 2017 16
With NWSL kicking off in three days, managing director of operations Amanda Duffy remained muum on streaming details. (photo: EmDash Photos via louisvillefc.com)

With NWSL kicking off in three days, managing director of operations Amanda Duffy remained muum on streaming details.
(photo: EmDash Photos via louisvillefc.com)

NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy, given a chance to address details of the league’s streaming platform with three days to go until the season starts, took a hard pass during a national conference call on Wednesday. Duffy, the voice of the league since the resignation of Commissioner Jeff Plush, said fans will neither be disappointed nor will they miss any games. She did not, though, reveal any details about who will stream the matches.

“We’ll have all of our games online, free of charge,” Duffy said as part of her opening remarks. Later when asked answer to a question, she replied, “We look forward to sharing more details obviously ahead of this weekend about where our fans will be able to go to watch those games.”

Duffy said she was aware of Tuesday night’s developments that pointed to the Verizon go90 app as the landing spot for streams. She did not expand when directly asked and all evidence of go90 partnering with NWSL was deleted late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

“I’m aware of what was on digital platforms and social media last night. Right now what I can confirm for our fans is that we will have all of our games available online.”

Pressed later as to the existence of a signed contract with a provider, Duffy again refused to offer a direct answer.

Fans have been clamoring, especially this week, as they wonder how to watch the opening weekend matches which begin with the Red Stars traveling to Houston on Saturday. Kickoff for that match is 2 p.m. EDT. The first NWSL on Lifetime match, Orlando at Portland, begins an hour later.

{NWSL PREVIEWS:  Thorns  |  Reign  |  Link to all}

On the timing, Duffy said, “Is an ideal time a month ago, two  months ago? Maybe. The timing is probably not what we want. But from a net outlook on it, we know that we’re going to have all of our games available to our fans whether it’s through television or on a digital platform. We know that the production of these games will be at a higher level and higher quality than they have been in previous seasons through our partnership with Vista Worldlink.

“I am excited to be able to tell more about how our fans will be able to watch in the coming days. I can assure everyone they won’t miss any games this weekend or in the coming season.”

Vista Worldlink is the Florida studio that will produce all NWSL broadcasts. With the exception of the Lifetime Game of the Week, all broadcasters will be based in the Vista studio.

Duffy added that all fans around the world would have free access to live streams. “They will be available internationally on nwslsoccer.com.” Archives and flexibility in terms of rewinding live streams was not addressed.

Sponsorship and expansion were also addressed with Duffy saying the league was anticipating adding new national sponsors or partners sometime later this year. The new partnership with A+E has helped.

“Certainly the partnership with A+E and Lifetime has opened up some conversations that previously we weren’t having. I do think it gives the sense and the presence of the stability of the league. Conversations with new potential partners are ongoing. There has been increased interest and increased conversation with potential sponsors and partners for NWSL and NWSL Media through the partnership that we’ve entered into with A+E and Lifetime.”

On expansion, Duffy reiterated the longstanding idea that talks are ongoing with several groups about starting NWSL teams. She stressed that finding the right groups to maintain league standards is vital.

Duffy also addressed the search for Plush’s replacement, which she said is ongoing. Thorns coach Mark Parsons then jumped in to interrupt, saying “Hashtag Duffy for commissioner.”

“Right now it’s an active search. In the time until that happens, I have taken a leadership role on everything that we’re doing in NWSL. It’s going to be a matter of finding the right person for this league.”

  • Silver Frost

    I wonder if there is a way to watch games and delete the talking heads at Vista.
    It should be an option: venue live sound, or, with added commentary.

    Really abysmal to deep six the local p-by-p and color comment. Some of those people were most entertaining.

    • RoughJustice

      I would love the option of venue live sound, but broadcasters seem to all feel the need to make sure you hear the talking heads they employ.

      Strong disagreement on getting rid of the local play by play, however. None were all that good, for my money, and a handful were laughably bad. One of the aspects of the Lifetime deal I’m most excited about is upping the professionalism, and hopefully therefore the quality, of the commentary.

      • Steglitz49

        Venue live sound of any quality is not that cheap.

        In the early days of soccer broadcasting, the BBC did not have it but people complained. The BBC therefore developed the microphones that looked like shaggy dogs that stood all around the pitch.

        Modern microphones are, of course, more advanced and easier to protect from wind (biggest hassle) and rain (which it does a lot in England during the season) but good venue live sound stil requires more than just having a camera (or two) at the game.

    • Ron Rocha

      Sometimes I think they forget that a commomtater is really just an ordinary potato…

      • Happy

        So close…

      • mockmook

        Most commontaters are good eggs…

    • mockmook

      Perhaps some of those local people will end up at the Vista studio

  • Ashley C

    Good news for international viewers. It would’ve been a shame to alienate them and make the league inaccessible. I’ll miss watching via Apple TV. Although I suppose I could try and mirror it via iPad.

  • FawcettFan14

    The archiving and on-demand accessibility are a huge component. If all the games are available live but then disappear, fans will miss out on seeing them.

    For one, games can occur simultaneously.

    For another, many fans including myself like to watch most or all the games if possible, but don’t often have enough time on the weekend to do this live (or the desire…we need to get out and do things!). But, I often go back and watch the ones I missed during the next week. If the on-demand viewing goes away, we will have to pick and choose much more selectively.

    • mockmook

      I think it is implied that the games will be archived — when Duffy says that we can watch every game, that is an implicit promise that we will be able to access games that occurred simultaneously.

      • Steglitz49

        What % watch archived games? I hardly ever do. If I miss a game I might watch a highlight of 3-5 min. Granted, a Championship final may be different. I have never seen the goals of the WC-15 final because I missed the match.

  • Alex Namzoff

    I have never seen an organization as consistently dismissive of their customers except maybe telephone providers, cable providers and airlines. Really not good company. Would it have been better to announce the plan a month ago, and the answer is maybe??? Seriously? How about any time before now would have been better, and after now is really bad, and we’re really sorry its taking so long. Is the league secretly being run by united airlines? I would rather pay something and get a good quality solution than have this erratic come up with a plan at the last moment stuff. FYI – the WNBA has a nice system, pay like $10 for the season, get access to every game with a day delay for anything televised live. I hope it doesn’t take 20 years for us to get there.

    • Woso

      She wasn’t dismissive. They clearly don’t have the deal done yet. If Verizon is coming on as a big sponsor to host the streams there is probably a lot of money at stake and the sponsor probably feels they have leverage by holding out on the league up to the last possible minute. She said the games were going to be available to everyone, everywhere at no cost. Why would you hope it doesn’t take 20 years?

      • Alex Namzoff

        I have to disagree. I don’t see anywhere in the article where she apologizes for not having information on how fans can watch the games with 3 days before the opening weekend. I get that a deal is in the works and the league may not have control over that, but the lack of any empathy in her comments as reported reminds me of the conversation 2 seasons ago around the location of the finals. The league seems to consistently not communicate really important details in a timely manner and then not show any sincere concern for how that comes across. And my comment about the 20 years is that I would like to see quality streaming with informed commentary and I am happy to pay for that, in fact I would rather pay for it to allow for better quality and at the same time help support the league. I don’t know why it needs to be free. Personally I think it diminishes the value and the status of the league to have low quality streaming and not give fans a way to support the league and the players financially.

        • Steglitz49

          Never apologise; never explain.

          On Monday we have the ladies SFs in the FA Cup. Find the matches and watch them!

        • mockmook

          Agree with all that but the paying part.