D.C. United Broadens Reach of Shoulder Programming by Simulcasting It to Facebook Live
Telestream’s Wirecast solution helps club leverage linear assets on the social platform
D.C. United is the most decorated club in modern U.S. soccer history and is a charter member of Major League Soccer, which was founded more than two decades ago. So it should be of little surprise that the club is adored by fans all across the country, not just by those living in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
When D.C. United decided to bring its live match production in-house last season (matches are distributed locally through a partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting Group), the club’s digital team began to brainstorm ways to extend the geographic reach of its live event content.
Although matches are available for streaming through the league’s out-of-market streaming service, MLS Live, D.C. United was producing a 30-minute pregame show as well as a 30-minute postgame show as part of its agreement that covered the digital department’s highest-quality content not viewable on MLS Live. To spread its story and message, the club turned to the new kid on the block, Facebook Live, and began simulcasting its linear pre/postgame shows on its club page on the social-media platform.
“For us, it’s all about being able to maximize our voice in this market space,” says Lindsay Simpson, director, media and communications, D.C. United. “This was a really great opportunity for us to push our storylines and our messaging and get our players out there, telling their stories and the stories of this organization.”
When Facebook Live became a viable broadcasting option and opened its API last year, a handful of technology vendors in the industry raced to develop solutions to make the process of streaming to Facebook Live more efficient and robust for content distributors. D.C. United turned to Wirecast, which enabled the league to get onto Facebook Live by leveraging valuable content created for in-market fans while providing valuable data on its viewers through the solution’s Insights tool.
“We’re a small crew, and our department does a lot of different things; we do social, we do PR, and we do video,” says Samantha Perrie, video producer, D.C. United. “I was tasked with finding the right platform for us to stream live shows, something that would allow us to produce professional-quality content for our fans. After a thorough search, we found Wirecast, took it for a test drive, and knew it was what we were looking for.”
D.C. United is the first MLS club to try something like this, and Simpson is pleased with the results. The average reach for the weekly pre/postgame shows last season was more than 50,000 with typical views hovering around 4,500.
“Everybody is looking at streaming as the next wave of television consumption, and we’re glad we’re on the forefront of that,” says Simpson. “We’d rather be out in front on this than playing catch-up later on.”
The club’s success on Facebook Live has also inspired the league to try more things on the platform besides shoulder programming around the game. Last season, to coincide with the celebration of MLS’s 20th season, D.C. United streamed the full match of the 1996 MLS Cup — a title that D.C. United won — on Facebook Live. It was the team’s most watched streaming event of the season, with a Facebook reach of 763,775 and 110,552 video views. Reactions, comments, and shares totaled 24,716.