HARRISONBURG — Saturday, as fans of DC United saw the streaming broadcast of a tied game against the New England Revolution drop out in the final minutes, it caused a predictable lament among followers of teams in the Colonial Athletic Association.
This year, DC United partnered with FloSports as its local broadcast partner for games not part of the MLS national television package. This spring, the CAA also partnered with FloSports, which will become the the conference’s primary media partner this fall.
It was the second major outage during a DC United game this season, but according the CAA officials the issues that have come about during the professional soccer matches may have little to do with upcoming college sports broadcasts.
“I am well aware of both situations that have occurred with DC United and FloSports,” CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio said. “But while I have had extensive discussions with FloSports about these matters, I am not at liberty to discuss details of either situation. However, I am very comfortable that what has occurred in both situations will not have an impact on the CAA’s relationship with FloSports or FloSports’ ability to broadcast CAA games and further CAA content.”
FloSports first issue with DC United coverage came in the season opener when many in the fan base were unable to access the broadcast stream. Because FloSports deal with United and other MLS franchises are local agreements, the FloSports games are only available in DC United’s home market.
For the opener, FloSports was too restrictive with its blackouts and some fans in the DC metro area were unable to stream the match. FloSports founder Mark Floreani issued an apology and offered free trial subscriptions to DC United fans.
That shouldn’t be an issue once FloSports begins broadcasting CAA contests because those games are designed to be available to subscribers nationwide and in overseas markets.
Though the exact reasons for the loss of the stream Saturday haven’t been revealed, some sources have indicated the issues may originated before the stream was received in FloSports’ Austin, Texas, headquarters.
Streaming broadcasts don’t come without some risk of technical issues. Also on Saturday, ESPN’s linear television broadcast of James Madison’s NCAA Super Regional softball game at UCLA directed fans to watch on the ESPN app until the previous game finished. But ESPN’s streaming feed of the game didn’t begin until the linear broadcast also switched to Los Angeles.
Other Flo broadcasts, such as EuroLeague basketball and college softball, have generally received more positive reviews for stream quality. That may be because much of the production responsibility goes to FloSports’ partners. In the CAA’s case, that means the quality of future streams will fall largely on the schools themselves.
“Our member institutions are responsible for producing the games and providing that streaming signal to FloSports,” D’Antonio said. “We are very optimistic that streaming issues will be at a minimum. Let’s not think that we’re never going to have a problem, but maybe this wasn’t 100 percent the fault of FloSports.”
D’Antonio said that for Dukes broadcasts in particular, it was fair to say JMU fans should be able to count on the same level of streaming quality they have grown accustomed to during in-house MadiZONE broadcasts.
JMU assistant athletic director for communications Kevin Warner said the school couldn’t comment on the DC United issues and that because there are many points from broadcast location to consumer where issues can arise, what has worked for JMU in the past may not be a perfect indicator of how delivery to FloSports will go. But JMU officials are confident they should be able to continue to provide quality streams as the FloSports relationship begins next school year.
“I have no reason to believe right now we will have significant issues,” Warner said.