Soccer fans should find it easy to watch their favorite teams in action this season, as three major NASL broadcast outlets — beIN SPORTS, CBS Sports Network and ESPN3 — were announced by the North American Soccer League in anticipation of the season starting this weekend.
The deal with beIN SPORTS makes the NASL the first North American professional league to team up with the global sports network.
“We’re obviously very excited to announce our new partnership with beIN SPORTS,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “Like the NASL, beIN SPORTS has quickly grown in importance and stature across North America. Our savvy pro soccer fans here in North America are watching beIN Sports on a regular basis, and now they’ll be able to watch exciting and competitive NASL action every week.”
Over the course of the 2016 NASL season, a minimum of 34 matches will air on beIN SPORTS in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Every weekend of the 2016 season will feature one match live on beIN SPORTS — 11 in the Spring Season and 18 in the Fall Season. Five weekday encounters will also air live on the network.
The first NASL match to air on beIN SPORTS will be this Saturday’s South Florida clash between the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami FC at Lockhart Stadium. The matchup, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, will air just a few hours after the conclusion of beIN SPORTS’ broadcast of El Clásico, one of the world’s most famous rivalry matches featuring FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF.
Returning for 2016: the NASL’s deal with the digital ESPN3 network, as over 100 North American Soccer League (NASL) matches will be carried live on ESPN3 as part of the league’s agreement with ESPN.
“The live streaming of our matches continues to grow in importance for our supporters,” Peterson said. “We have a great relationship with ESPN, and ESPN3 has been a viewing hub for our fans over the last two years. It gives them an opportunity to watch NASL matches that aren’t available in our linear packages, and it allows them to enjoy those matches on a variety of devices.”
ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, will carry a minimum of two matches per week during the NASL Spring Season and a minimum of three per week over the course of the Fall Season. The network will be home to a total of 104 NASL matches in 2016. The league will make the full ESPN3 viewing schedule available in the coming days.
ESPN3 is accessible in the U.S. on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through WatchESPN. For the matches streaming live on ESPN3, Canadian viewers will be able to watch them live on NASL.com.
Fans watched NASL action on ESPN streaming platforms all year long in 2015, taking in more than 120 matches from regions all over the world. ESPN3’s viewer-friendly interface allows fans in the U.S. to watch multiple games at one time — a feature NASL fans will surely take advantage of once again in 2016.
Finally, the NASL and the digital/cable CBS Sports Network announced a national television partnership on Thursday, unveiling a schedule of 12 Fall Season matchups that will air on the network beginning in July.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to join forces with CBS Sports Network,” said Peterson. “This new partnership will focus on bringing our incredible competition, and the stories that accompany it, to tens of millions of homes each week beginning in July. This is the beginning of something great.”
Rayo OKC will host FC Edmonton on Saturday, July 2 to kick off the lineup of NASL matches on CBS Sports Network. The schedule, which adds professional soccer to CBS Sports Network’s summer schedule, includes four matches in July, four in August, and two matches in both September and October, respectively.
CBS served as the NASL’s broadcast partner during the legendary days of Pele and George Best. An estimated 10 million viewers tuned into CBS to watch Pele’s debut match for the New York Cosmos in 1975.
“The NASL returning to the CBS family is an incredible story for everyone who enjoys the great game of soccer in North America,” Peterson added. “The great soccer history and legacy of the NASL was first captured on CBS, and now decades later, we have partnered with CBS Sports Network to write a new chapter together.”
Image courtesy Indy Eleven.