Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) this week announced that the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023. This live sports partnership is a historic first for a major professional sports league, and will allow fans around the world to watch all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches in one place — without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay TV bundle.
From early 2023 through 2032, fans can get every live MLS match by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app. In addition to all of the match content, the service will provide fans a new weekly live match whip-around show so they never miss an exciting goal or save, and also game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming. This live and on-demand MLS content will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes views of the players and clubs that fans love. A broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including some of the biggest matchups, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free.
Apple’s deal with the MLS is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the deal is structured as a revenue share with a minimum $250 million [annual] guarantee. So if Apple can sell more subscriptions for the MLS package, the league also earns more.
That means the league will likely help push the premium subscription and Apple TV in order to maximize the value of the deal. That’s a very interesting strategy from Apple, and it also likely helped it win the bid for the media rights.
The second notable aspect is that games are exempt from local broadcast blackouts. Most leagues are very protective of their television broadcast rights, blacking out local games and pushing fans to subscribe to the cable bundle. Apple’s deal will allow local fans to watch their favorite team without a cable subscription.
Apple, unlike some of its competitors, has no financial interest in keeping consumers subscribed to cable. In fact, it may benefit from more cord-cutting. Not paying for cable TV means more room in the budget for streaming services like Apple TV+…
Sports rights are only increasing in value. While some investors might look at the prices it’s paying and get sticker shock, the potential value these deals bring to the streaming service is worth making the bet.
MacDailyNews Take: In year five, let alone year ten, this MLS deal will be looked on as a tremendous value for Apple. Hopefully, there are more live sports deals for Apple to come!
Cook should consider bidding for and winning NFL Sunday Ticket away from DirecTV, buying rights to Premiere League and La Liga games, etc. and making them Apple TV exclusives. Go directly to the sports leagues with boatloads of cash. — MacDailyNews, May 6, 2014
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