Earlier this year, MLS and Apple announced their partnership to give Apple TV exclusive broadcast rights to MLS games. Since then, the information about how the deal will work only shows one thing for sure. That is the deal looks like it is trying to hurt the league’s casual viewers.
Apple TV and MLS fans already got off to a rocky start. The news that home broadcast teams would no longer be a thing made sure of that. Every local broadcast team had to say their heartbreaking goodbyes to the fans down the stretch of the MLS regular season.
Today, Apple TV announced its subscription prices and options. It is certain to drive the wedge between the league and casual viewers even deeper.
They Want to Charge How Much?
Apple announced that the prices for the MLS Season PAss through Apple TV will be $14.99 a month or $99 a season. Don’t worry, however! Apple TV+ subscribers get a great discount at $12.99 OR $79 a season.
For perspective, ESPN+ was just $4.99 a month. Even if Apple TV is bringing more MLS content than ESPN did, including no blackout games, $14.99/month is a slap in the face to casual viewers.
If you are someone who loves the sport and will actually tune into more than the local team then $14.99 isn’t a huge issue. However, if you are on the fence or just want to tune into a game a few times a month then you are not going to commit to that price.
The Issue Lies Deeper than Pricing
MLS isn’t on the NFL level. The sport still has miles of growth in the United States. Shutting down people on the fence or just trying to view the league casually doesn’t seem like the best plan of action at the moment.
The best example of this is the Philadelphia Union. Going to the MLS Cup put the team on the Philly map. In a media area dominated by the Eagles and Phillies, the Union finally had some momentum for them.
If anyone was on the fence about the Union or wanted to try to check out a few games before committing, well, seems they’re out of luck now.
The whole Apple TV thing also pushes on the older fans and viewers. Needing to find/learn yet another way to download and log into a streaming app. Believe it or not, not every single TV is a smart TV yet. On top of that, a lot of people aren’t going to want to tune in on their phones or computer.
It isn’t all Bad
The Apple TV Deal does do good things for MLS. No blackouts and worldwide access to the league will help growth.
For diehard fans, being able to tune into games from any smart device at any time is certainly sweet.
The MLS and Apple partnership was made to propel the MLS forward. While it will be successful in many aspects, it may come a the cost of casual viewers. For some markets, the casual market isn’t really important. For Philadelphia and the Union, they need it to make a strong push into a very sport-passionate city.
Featured Image: Major League Soccer