Hey, sorry for the lack of stuff over the past few months, it’s been a crazy time for everyone at BLH, we’ve had job changes, cross country moves, and just a ton of other stuff that took us away from the site, but with the season underway in some leagues, and getting ready to start in the SPHL and FPHL, we’re getting things fired back up.
And today, we’re back in a big way with a report that is sure to make fans extremely happy.
In what is sure to be one of the biggest announcements in FPHL history, yes, possibly even bigger than the four expansion teams being added this off-season, sources have confirmed to Bus League Hockey that the league will be moving away from the pay-per-view model it had used for streaming games in the past, and switching over to teams running their own feeds, free on YouTube.
That’s right, all 286 FPHL games will be free and at your fingertips this season.
We wondered what the streaming setup was going to be when we ventured to the FPHL website, and noticed that the ad that typically took you to the league’s streaming partner was gone from the site, and with roughly two weeks until the season started, that raised a lot of questions, which our sources were able to answer most of.
Previously, the FPHL had relied on Thunderforce Media for streaming its games, with each game running at $5 and no option to bundle and buy a league-wide package. That meant that fans who wanted to watch all 56 games of their favorite team spent $280 and again, only got their team’s games on streams that would vary wildly in quality. Compare that to the SPHL, whose streaming package is $200, but includes every game for every team, and the FPHL streaming service was an expensive package that had rampant complaints and issues.
No reason was given for why the league and its teams are switching away from Thunderforce Media, and it was not immediately known if fans will have the option of home and away broadcasts, or if they’ll only be limited to the stream and audio from the hosting team.
This is major news not just for fans of the teams in the FPHL, but massive for fans who had always wanted to see the league in action, but refused to pay $5 a game to see what they had to offer, and gives the league a massive reach it didn’t have before. It also one-ups the SPHL’s offering, because while $200 for the entire league isn’t bad, it’s not free, and free, especially on a platform as easily accessible as YouTube is huge for fans and teams. Add in that the SPHL is currently powered by NeuLion, a somewhat outdated service that my college used to stream its non-revenue sports, and this YouTube announcement looks even bigger. Keep in mind that I (Ron) graduated from college in 2012, and whenever I fired up SPHL Live last season, even with 400mps internet at home, constantly had issues with it running smoothly.
To our knowledge, and please correct us either in the comments or on social media on this if you know otherwise, the FPHL becomes the first pro hockey league to stream every game for free (UPDATE: The NWHL has an agreement with Twitch to watch for free, so the FPHL is the first use YouTube). Some leagues like the AHL, ECHL, and LNAH have had free games of the week on Facebook, while services like HockeyTV also offered a free game of the week for each of the leagues on that service.
Currently, the two most notable pro sports league using YouTube for all its games are the Indoor Football League and National Arena League, and to our knowledge there have been very little complaints from fans about those services. And if there are complaints, it’s directed at the teams since they fully control the broadcast quality, and not at a service like Thunderforce Media after fans paid to watch. If a stream is bad or isn’t working that night, it’s a bummer you miss the game, but at the end of the day you’re not our any money.
So there it is, less than two weeks before the puck official drops on the FPHL season, the league is shaking things up in a major way, and helping out fans in an unprecedented way by moving every game to YouTube for free.
We’ll have more updates to this story when we are given more information from the league.