On Tuesday morning Apple and Major League Soccer announced that the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every live MLS game beginning in 2023. This is the first partnership for a major professional sports league and will give fans around the world access to watch all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches on Apple TV. According to Jeremiah Oshan on Twitter, the reported fee is a base of $250M, almost three times what MLS is getting now. Presumably, this will top $300M when/if TV rights are sold.
“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Given Apple’s ability to create a best-in-class user experience and to reach fans everywhere, it’ll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or casual viewer.”
“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.”
Access to watch these games will be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free. Furthermore, access to the new streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages.
“For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services. “It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration — just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere, and anytime you want to watch. We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”
The MLS live and on-demand content on the Apple TV application will be available to viewers with devices such as iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD; TV including Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, TCL, and VIZIO. It will also be available on Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles, Chromecast with Google TV, and Comcast Xfinity.
Once the partnership begins, all MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French. MLS is the fastest growing soccer league in the world as it doubled in size to 29 clubs over the span of 15 years. With MLS players representing 82 countries, the league has the most global player pool in sports, and the fan base is one of the youngest audiences in North American sports.
It was also reported by Paul Kennedy on Twitter that all games except perhaps linear and stadium conflicts will be on Wednesday and Saturday nights with most starting at 7 or 8 p.m. local. Jonathan Tannenwald reported that for teams with local radio broadcasts, viewers will be able to listen to the radio broadcasts as the audio instead of the TV broadcast feed.
Unfortunately, this deal means that local TV deals will end and for Union fans, this means that there will be no more matches on PHL17 from 2023 to 2032. As a fan, this deal is a little frustrating because it will require non-season ticket holders to pay to watch their team play each week. Oftentimes casual fans will not want to pay to watch their team and this could negatively affect the growth of MLS as a whole.
"Featured Image: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images"