Soccer in North America continues to grow in popularity, and with it the demand to watch games.
In response, USL PRO announced Friday every game of the 2014 season, including the playoffs, will be streamed free on YouTube through individual team channels. Additionally, matches will be archived so they can be accessed on-demand by viewers, and the league plans to provide other video highlights on their own YouTube channel.
The announcement also affects MLS fans, who will be able to see their teams' on-loan players in action with USL PRO sides. Seven of the 13 current teams have affiliate partnerships with MLS clubs, while others reportedly will be announced soon and a handful of MLS clubs likely will field their own teams in the third-flight league beginning this upcoming season.
"Online streaming is a vital component of the growth of the league," USL president Tim Holt said in a statement. "YouTube eliminates barriers that previously stood between fans and the action on the field.
"We want fans worldwide to take notice of the high quality of play in USL PRO and see the importance of the league in the North American soccer landscape. YouTube makes this process much easier and we’re thrilled to have this relationship.”
The announcement comes days after the NASL announced its streaming model for the upcoming season, where live and on-demand streams of all games will be available under a $4.99 monthly subscription.
Thirteen teams will play in USL PRO for the 2014 season. In addition to 2013 champions and future MLS side Orlando City SC, two new clubs, the Oklahoma City Energy and Sacramento Republic, will participate in 2014.