It was finally time to break out those old free internet CDs last Saturday, as the Cosmos/Rowdies matchup was streamed on AOL as the website’s first live soccer match. It isn’t hard to notice the parallels between the Cosmos and AOL. They are both iconic brands that, after rough times, are looking to reestablish themselves. Just like the Cosmos, AOL had its own reboot; they pivoted to become a digital media company in 2009 and were acquired by Verizon in 2015. At the moment, it is unclear if AOL will continue to stream Cosmos games. However, Partnering with the once iconic company definitely seems like an unorthodox move, but could be a step in the right direction for increasing the club’s exposure.
Using a site like AOL rather than One World Sports stream could benefit the Cosmos in a few ways. A site like AOL would likely be more technically prepared for the traffic of a live stream than One World Sports, whose streams have been very inconsistent. Secondly, AOL’s stream had no paywall and didn’t require a login, which makes it more accessible the One World Sport’s usual streams. Finally, AOL has a larger outreach, which they can use to promote matches. For instance, they published an interview with Andres Flores on their national site to get fans excited for the Rowdies match.
New York and AOL chose the perfect game to debut its streams. Last Saturday’s Cosmos/Rowdies derby was exciting, physical and nail-biting towards the very end. Fans were able to see the team live up to its “Cardiac Cosmos” moniker by making fan’s hearts skip a beat with their extra time winner. The match also showcased the NASL and one of its biggest rivalries. The Cosmos and Rowdies displayed NASL soccer at its best, in a competitive and physical match.
Probably the best part of AOL’s steam was that it used One World Sport’s coverage of the game. Although there has been much fair criticism of the channel’s availability and their tendency to show the end of rugby or cricket matches over the beginning of Cosmos matches, they do a great job of covering matches. Shep Messing’s color commentary has been superb, and exposing new fans to a Cosmos legend could really help them connect with the team. Having a broadcaster that knows the Cosmos so well allows new viewers to be better educated on the team’s current squad and season.
Ever since the reboot, becoming worldwide brand has been a part of the Cosmos’s vision statement. Trips to England, China and even becoming the first United States team to play in Cuba after the embargo was lifted all helped to grow the Cosmo’s brand. However in all of these places, it’s virtually impossible to watch a Cosmos match. For the club to truly be Cosmopolitans, they must be able to establish fanbases that can actively root for the team around the globe. Even within the United States, if one lives outside the New York area or doesn’t have access to One World Sports, it can be extremely difficult to watch the Cosmos. Making matches more available to a local audience via stream could also allow more New Yorkers to fall in love with the team, and may even help with the Cosmo’s home attendance woes. With or without AOL, making Cosmos games more accessible to the average soccer fan via internet streaming is essential to growing the team’s brand.
Although there were a few hiccups with last Saturday’s stream, there is potential for a great partnership between AOL and the Cosmos. Streaming Cosmos games could be a diamond in the rough find for AOL’s growing sports section. The number one challenge for both the Cosmos and AOL is exposure, and perhaps working together can help them both in that regard. Even without AOL, the Cosmos making their matches more accessible is a step in the right direction. In the meantime, be sure to look for those free internet CDs, you could possibly watch a ton of Cosmos games with those 1000 free hours.