Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) in June announced that the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023. This partnership is a historic first for a major professional sports league, and will allow fans around the world to watch all MLS, Leagues Cup,1 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.
In a landmark deal, 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.
Eddy Cue, who leads Apple’s services business and has spearheaded the company’s push into subscription streaming and live sports, called a recently minted deal with Major League Soccer “a huge global opportunity” for the tech giant.
The remarks came during a rare speaking engagement for Cue at the Paley Center for Media in New York on Tuesday afternoon, as he and MLS commissioner Don Garber discussed the 10-year partnership.
The two execs described the agreement as having an equal amount of skin in the game. Encompassing areas like production and sponsorship relations, he said, it goes beyond a traditional sports rights deal.
“The only way I win is if he wins,” Cue said. “The only way he wins is if I win. So, it makes it a really unique opportunity. That’s why it hasn’t happened [until now]. But I think you’ll see more of it.” Because of the comprehensive nature of the team-up, he added, “If I have a great idea, I don’t have to think, ‘Does my contract allow this?’ And vice-versa on their side. We’re both incented to grow the game, to innovate on the distribution of it.”
Garber said he expects the deal “will be replicated” by other leagues, especially with its dimension of MLS sponsors seeking a direct relationship with Apple.
MacDailyNews Take: Literally, for the first time ever, fans of a major world sport will be able to access everything from a major pro league in one place: the Apple TV app. What a great idea!
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
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! – MacDailyNews, June 17, 2022
Complete details for the new service, including when fans can sign up, subscription pricing, specific details about the new MLS programming, an improved match schedule, broadcast teams, production enhancements, and pre and postgame coverage — as well as all the ways fans will be able to enjoy MLS content across the Apple ecosystem — will be announced in the coming months.
The MLS live and on-demand content on the Apple TV app will be available to anyone with internet access across all devices where the app can be found, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD; Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, TCL, VIZIO, and other smart TVs; Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices; PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles; Chromecast with Google TV; and Comcast Xfinity. Fans can also watch on tv.apple.com.
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Am I the only one that’s not a fan of Apple making these deals to broadcast sports? I’d I wanted to pay to support the inflated salaries of pro athletes, I’d subscribe to ESPN or buy packages directly from the respective leagues. I’m willing to pay for movies and entertainment programs… not sports. I wish I had the option to turn off that part of the stream.
Not A Fan:
do you have a problem with the actors’ salaries in the movies you watch, or just the athletes?
Sam – I don’t mind paying for movie channels, or long-form entertainment. I don’t watch sports, so I’d like to continue keeping sports programming sources separate from entertainment programming sources.
But to answer your question, yes I think some actors’ paychecks have become as crazy as some athletes’ pay. On the other hand, minimum salaries for major men’s sports now START at roughly $800,000 a year and up; SAG minimum is somewhat below that. (/s). But I’m willing to support that industry, which is why I pay to stream HBOmax, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+ (and a couple of others).
For years, I’ve advocated for a pay-per-view model of video programming, where I pay fees directly to the producers of the shows I want to watch, as opposed to paying for an entire network’s output (or earlier, entire cable lineups, which were saddled with hundreds of channels I never viewed). I’ve been told that economic model isn’t economically viable (niche producers couldn’t earn enough money to survive), but it’d be interesting to find out.
I will be looking forward to it. I hope it will be available in my location.
I hope they win the NFL contract – right now, it’s a steaming pile of mess where games are stretched across multiple networks, the NFL+ is a joke – and with all kinds of blackouts – it’s all about the money and not about the fans.
Bring the fans and the money will follow.