In the wake of technical issues experienced Sunday during D.C. United’s first broadcast on the subscription-based streaming service FloSports, Mark Floreani, the Austin-based network’s co-founder, apologized and vowed to “win the fans’ trust back” over the remainder of the season. FloSports is also offering full refunds to new subscribers not interested in giving the product a second chance.
“We’re apologizing to the D.C. United fans,” Floreani said in a phone interview Monday. “That’s not how we wanted to kick off the season.”
Floreani took personal responsibility for Sunday’s issues, which stemmed from inaccurate geofencing restrictions that prevented many subscribers from accessing the broadcast at the start of the match and caused the stream to buffer or cut out completely for others during the first half.
“We were too restrictive, and there were people inside the region that couldn’t view the stream,” Floreani said. “We obviously tried to get that fixed quickly, and our fix did impact some other isolated viewers."
The issues affected viewers at D.C. United’s official watch party at Lou’s City Bar in Columbia Heights, where fans missed the first minutes of the match because the stream wasn’t working. Members of the Barra Brava supporters’ group who gathered to watch United’s 0-0 draw against New York City FC at Finn McCool’s on Capitol Hill experienced similar problems in the first half.
FloSports has since added a coverage map to its site.
Floreani, who declined to share viewership numbers for Sunday’s match, said the problem was resolved by the second half and he does not anticipate similar issues for United’s next appearance on the network, Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
“We have fixed the geoblock issue going forward, so we’re confident that won’t happen again,” Floreani said. “Just in case, we’re going to start the stream earlier for the next game, replaying last week’s game, just to make sure that people can log on. If there’s any issues, they can contact customer support. We’ll have a little more leeway into the event.”
United’s matches were shown on WJLA 24/7 News for the past three years, and on NBC Sports Washington before that, but the club cut the cord during the offseason and signed a multiyear deal with FloSports to broadcast 21 of its 34 regular season matches this year. The remainder of United’s games will appear on the league’s national TV platforms (Fox Sports, ESPN or UniMas). After Sunday’s disappointing debut, United’s co-chairmen, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, released a statement 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.”
“All we can do is fix the problem, apologize for the inconvenience, and if people don’t want the subscription or aren’t happy, we’re giving full refunds,” Floreani said Monday. “We hope and we believe that we can win the fans’ trust back. . . . If they’re not happy with it and they don’t want to continue on with the season, we’ll give them their money back. We want people that want the product.”
D.C. United season ticket members are eligible for a discounted yearly subscription to FloSports, a one-time payment of $71.88. The yearly rate for non-season ticket members is $108 if purchased using a link provided on United’s site. Monthly subscriptions are available for $29.99.
In addition to game broadcasts, which are archived and available on demand, FloSports offers supplemental United content to subscribers, including behind-the-scenes video and player interviews. Subscribers also have access to FloSports’s other programming, including track and field, swimming, wrestling and other various college sports.
“We’re always looking for ways to create more content for the team,” said Floreani, whose company announced a broadcast partnership with Cincinnati’s MLS expansion club Monday. “As we build out our soccer vertical, we’re going to invest more. We’re less than two months old. Yeah, this wasn’t the greatest debut, but we signed Concacaf, we have FC Cincinnati, and we’re going to continue to sign more and more content to make the subscription worthwhile for our users and customers.”
Without providing FloSports subscription numbers of D.C. United supporters, Floreani said he’s been “very happy” with the partnership with the club thus far.
“We’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain, and we will,” he said.
This post has been updated.
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