The Major League Soccer season is less than two weeks away, so we decided to give you all a refresher course on the myriad of different ways that you can watch D.C. United (and the rest of Major League Soccer) this season.
National broadcast: D.C. United is on a national broadcast 11 times this season, with six games on NBC Sports Network, three games on Univision Deportes, one game on UniMas, and one game on ESPN2. It is possible that Comcast SportsNet will pick up some of the Spanish-language games (this used to happen with games on Galavision occasionally); however, given their limited broadcast schedule, I doubt it. Also, Depending on your local market, it is possible that some of the Spanish-language matches may be broadcast over-the-air, if you do not get them as a part of your cable package.
Local broadcast: As D.C. United fans know, Comcast SportsNet has only picked up approximately 16 games this season, as they did last season, with the option to add more. However, this leaves 7 games that currently do not have any television broadcast whatsoever. This likely includes D.C. United's season opener against the Columbus Crew, because Comcast SportsNet has both a Washington Capitals game and a Washington Wizards game. The official list of what games CSN will broadcast has not yet been released, and does not typically come out until the week before the first match.
MLS Live: MLS Live is a great tool to catch up with the league as a whole, and to watch D.C. United games if you cannot watch them live. However, television blackout policies affect users of MLS Live: any games that are shown on NBCSN, UniMas, or ESPN2 are completely blacked-out, and any games shown on CSN are blacked-out if you live within its viewership area. That area goes at least from D.C. to Richmond, with most of the Maryland suburbs affected as well. For games not broadcast in any form, MLS typically will lift the MLS Live blackout so that you can at least hear the other team's announcers call the game.
To watch games on MLS Live, you can use a number of devices: it works on your computer, Roku, Apple TV, Android device, or Apple iOS device. Rumors from the MLS Broadcast meetings going on this week say that people were given Chromecasts; if MLS Live is available on that as well, that would be a big coup. It is still not yet available on XBox, which seems strange since they are a league sponsor. Personally, I watch MLS Live via XBMC on a Raspberry Pi, but that's because I'm a tech nerd.
Direct Kick: Direct Kick is a television subscription package that allows you to watch all MLS games live on your television. However, it is still subject to local blackout restrictions and there is no playback besides your DVR of which I am aware. Personally, with the wide range of devices that can watch MLS Live (with more possibly coming soon), I do not see much of a need for Direct Kick unless you are a sports bar or some other public venue.
Radio: This isn't watching, but you can still catch D.C. United games this season on the radio. While it has not yet been officially announced, Steve Goff reported that United is close to a deal for live English-language broadcast of the team's games on WJFK. United will be broadcast on the station's HD-2 feed and the AM station when their games conflict with the games of other local teams. The team was also on Romantica 900 for Spanish-language broadcasting last year, but the format of that station has changed.
Now that you know the full slate of options, how will you be following D.C. United this season? Do you buy MLS Live or Direct Kick?