They gave us what we want! Due to popular demand, Orlando City decided to open up some preseason action to the fans, with the February 11th friendly against the Colorado Rapids open to fans at Exploria Stadium and streaming live online.
This is undeniably awesome! For hardcore fans and media types, two categories I'd say I fall under, getting to actually see preseason action is the best. It's a taste of soccer and gives us insight on the roster. For all the greatness of getting a sneak peak and more connection with the club, Major League Soccer has one major problem: blackouts.
Per MLS rules, only people within 100 miles of the club can stream preseason matches. That's mostly fine, I mean most of the fanbase, especially hardcore ones, live within that bubble. BUT. At the same time, not every single fan lives in the direct area.
Speaking personally, I'm just barely outside that bubble. Hell, I'd still consider myself in Central Florida, but I'm a little too far outside that bubble to watch. This is a stupid and bad decision from MLS that I genuinely do not understand.
There's a huge untapped or already active marketplace of Orlando City fans in Northern Florida, plus plenty of fans across the country overseas and across the country. Who benefits from not letting those audiences not watch preseason games? Furthermore, it's making the club lose out on a chance to engage with fans.
I have plenty of thoughts on Orlando City's fan engagement that I'll get into throughout this month, and this is just another limiting factor. This isn't the club's fault for what it's worth. The team might want to share preseason matches across the globe, but it's a league rule that limits who can see the streams. If the league's objective is to grow and become a national and international brand, anything that limits growth seems incredibly counterproductive. So please, MLS League Office, please let me and fans like me watch preseason streams outside the blackout bubble, we're begging you.