At D.C. United’s official watch party at Lou’s City Bar in Columbia Heights, fans missed the first minutes of Sunday’s 0-0 draw against New York City FC because the stream wasn’t working. Members of the Barra Brava supporters’ group who gathered to watch Sunday’s match at Finn McCool’s on Capitol Hill experienced similar problems in the first half.
Fans trying to watch from home had their own issues during the broadcast. Sunday’s match also was available on ESPN+, another subscription streaming service, but it was blacked out for viewers in the D.C. area.
D.C. United’s official Twitter account was posting GIFs from Sunday’s match using images from YES Network, the broadcast partner of New York City FC. The club’s co-chairmen, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, released a statement late Sunday about the broadcast problems, saying they were “deeply disappointed.”
“We are taking these issues very seriously and find the problems encountered unacceptable,” the statement read. “We entered into this agreement with FloSports to offer in-depth year-round coverage and to ensure that our fans can watch our matches in high definition and on their mobile devices for the first time in our 24-year history. . . . In the coming days we will be working with FloSports to ensure this does not happen again.”
A FloSports employee responded to several complaints over Twitter and appeared to be troubleshooting the issues as the match went on. The employee eventually tweeted that the streaming issue was fixed and fans should be “good to go” during the second half.
Fans reported that the stream improved during the second half.
FloSports apologized for the inconvenience in a statement Sunday night.
“At the start of the D.C. United match today some users were blocked in a region that shouldn’t have been,” the Austin-based network tweeted. “The issue was resolved but we apologize for any inconvenience. When the issue was fixed interruptions may have resulted.”
D.C. United opened its season with a 2-0 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United last weekend. That match was broadcast on ESPN. The team’s popularity rose dramatically in 2018 following the acquisition of Wayne Rooney, the reacquisition of Bill Hamid, the opening of Audi Field and a second-half surge that resulted in a playoff appearance.
Removing most of the team’s matches from traditional television broadcasts was a critical decision for a franchise beginning to reel in casual soccer fans. Even on the heels of an impressive season-opening win, forcing those fans to pay for a streaming service with kinks still being worked out as the match went on is a rough way for D.C. United to start its new broadcast partnership.
Steven Goff and Scott Allen contributed to this report.