Apple, MLS sign 10 year rights deal
June 15, 2022
Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) have 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 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 featuring highlights, analysis, and other original programming. As an added benefit to fans, access to the new MLS streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
At launch, 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. Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage for fans to easily follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights right in the News app.
Complete details for the new service, including when fans can sign up, subscription pricing, specific details about the new MLS programming etc will be announced in the coming months.
“Sports clearly represents the next battleground for ownership of the living room among the big tech companies,” notes Paolo Pescatore, TMT analyst at PP Foresight. “This is a statement of intent by Apple. While it’s late to the party, it must now be considered a serious player for sports rights in key markets for its products.”
“The message of ‘all in one place’ will resonate strongly with users. Arguably this is probably the right time to acquire these assets as soccer continues to grow in the States,” he adds.
Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sport Analysis at GlobalData, also offered his views, commenting: “The [MLS deal] is another indication that Apple sees tremendous value in sports media rights as it looks to build an audience for its platform. Already having a deal with Major League Baseball in place, Apple TV could become a serious player for other major sports rights moving forward, with US rights to F1 up at the end of the year. The move by the streaming service for more sports content to pair with its current slate of in-house produced content signals that the need for Apple TV to attract more viewers is paramount. With the rights to India’s IPL going for over $5 billion over the weekend, it shows that the appetite for sports rights is undiminished as the last bastion of appointment, must-see television and we can expect to see further development in this area over the next 12 months.”