Things will be changing in how soccer fans will be watching Riverhounds SC — and all USL games real soon.
From April 12-onward on ESPN’s subscription service ESPN-Plus will be the steaming home of all USL games.
The expansion of USL’s broadcast agreement with ESPN for the 2018 and 2019 seasons — according to the league — will bring more regular-season games to linear networks and make ESPN+ the league’s streaming subscription service in the United States.
“We are thrilled to expand our valued relationship with ESPN through the 2019 season,” said USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis. “Our collaboration has grown organically over the last few years, as we’ve worked closely to continually enhance our broadcasts. In addition, our investments into USL Productions and partnership with VISTA Worldlink – now in its second season and under the visionary guidance of industry veteran Michael Cohen – has built the league into a premier television sports property which delivers engaging, exciting and unique content for fans all season long. Our clubs and players will benefit from the significantly increased exposure across ESPN’s linear networks, ESPN3, and our presence on ESPN+ alongside Major League Soccer, the English Football League and UEFA Nations League, and other top international soccer leagues and tournaments.”
“We have worked in great collaboration with the USL to leverage numerous ESPN touch points to reach fans, and will continue to do so through this latest agreement,” said Scott Guglielmino, Senior Vice President, ESPN Programming. “We look forward to our expanded relationship as we serve fans across our platforms in new and engaging ways.”
Locally, select Riverhounds games will be aired on the CW Pittsburgh, and all the games will be available on ESPN plus.
“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Riverhounds SC this season and are happy to be able to provide our viewers with more access to exciting local professional soccer,” said Chris Pike, Vice President and General Manager of KDKA-TV and WPCW-TV.
In total, 16 matches are expected to be televised for the 2018 season – 11 road dates and five home games.
Two of those broadcasts already took place — as the March 24 match vs expansion side Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium, as well as the home opener vs Penn FC aired live on CW.
In addition, first-time visits to North Carolina FC on July 28 and Indy Eleven on Sept. 22. Further details on the three additional matches at Highmark Stadium to be televised will be provided at a later date.
Along with broadcasting matches, Pittsburgh’s No. 1 local sports department in CBS-KDKA will air Hounds highlights weekly on its channel, including segments on Nightly Sports Call with Bob Pompeani and Sports Showdown.
Despite the move to ESPN from YouTube, the broadcasts from Highmark Stadium will feature the local crew that includes Pittsburgh Hockey Now‘s Matt Gajtka on play-by-play, with local soccer icons Paul Child and Gene Klein as the analysts.
Now in its third season, the USL’s agreement with ESPN will see six USL regular season games and the 2018 USL Cup aired on linear networks, a major increase from a season ago. The full 2018 Game of the Week schedule will be released in the coming weeks.
In addition to the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3, the league’s regular-season contests will be available in the United States through ESPN+ after its launch on April 12, where the league will reside alongside Major League Soccer, the English Football League and UEFA Nations League on the new direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company Direct-to-Consumer and International group in partnership with ESPN.
Prior to the launch of ESPN+ on April 12, all USL regular season contests will be available through the league’s YouTube channel.
Games will be produced by USL Productions, the league’s state-of-the-art broadcast production, broadcast and distribution facilities with VISTA Worldlink in south Florida. Now in its second season, USL Productions produces and distributes more than 500 league matches and more than 1,000 hours of original content to national partners and local affiliates. The USL Match Center will also return for the 2018 season, with up-to-the-minute match statistics provided by industry leader Opta.