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This Soccer League Will Stream All Of Its Matches Online for Free

In an effort to increase its fan base, Lega Pro — the Italian 3rd division — streams all of its games online for free. Should other leagues follow this model?

One league in Italy is hoping to draw in more viewers through easily accessible games. It isn’t Serie A, but rather Lega Pro, Italy’s third division. Through the Italian streaming site Sportube.tv, fans can access a plethora of Lega Pro games in addition to streams for other sporting events, such as volleyball and motor sports. It goes without saying that the biggest leagues in soccer have very little trouble generating dedicated fan bases and reaching large television viewership. 

For perspective, it’s projected that an annual TV rating of the El Clasico matchup can reach over 50 million viewers worldwide, according to the statistic-driven folks at ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight.

This doesn’t even account for the countless viewers — particularly Millennials — who might view the game with the help of a streaming service, legal or otherwise. Naturally, that can extend to several of the most prominent leagues in the world, and for many sports beyond soccer. 

However, consistent legal streams for sporting events are hard to find, especially if an individual is devoted to a specific team or league. After all, NBC Sports has the rights to the Premier League in the United States, but they can’t show every single game on TV. 

While the service might only cater to Italian fans devoted to their third division teams, it sets a precedent that other leagues could potentially follow. Now, that isn’t to suggest big leagues by the likes of the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A will do the same. They have television deals set in place across the globe. Rather, it’s an exciting avenue for lesser-known leagues. 

Other soccer leagues have begun to experiment with this concept in North America. The United Soccer League and National Women’s Soccer League have both worked with YouTube as a platform for live streams for its regular and postseason games, to moderate success. For the USL’s championship game between the Rochester Rhinos and LA Galaxy II, the game totalled over 16,000 viewers. 

If other, smaller leagues in Europe were to employ a similar approach, the results could be very rewarding. Whether it’s a lower division — like the Spanish Segunda — or a top league in another country, such as the Czech First League, the opportunity is there. Advertisers can obviously sponsor themselves within streams, as YouTube and other streaming sites have been successful with this model for years. And by fans using a legal stream, actual viewership numbers can be provided and analyzed.  

Most importantly, at its simplest, the accessibility might even bring along new fans to the leagues. Even a reader looking at this article could be tempted to watch Lega Pro with the corresponding website link. 

The merits of live streaming have its benefits in an increasingly digital age. The way we view television, films and sporting events continues to evolve. Just a decade ago, ESPN3 did not exist, and Netflix was a service that mailed DVDs to your doorstep. 

It might not be for everyone, but legal live streams will help the beautiful game grow, in ways it hasn’t been able to before. 

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