Apple on Tuesday announced that it has a deal with Major League Soccer to have exclusive rights to broadcast MLS matches for the next 10 years. Starting with the 2023 season, Apple will offer an MLS streaming service that will be accessible through the Apple TV app, and the service will show all MLS matches live without blackout restrictions so you can watch any match from anywhere.
The MLS stream includes all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches. The stream will also feature a weekly live highlights show, game replays, recorded highlights, analysis, and other original programming. According to Apple’s press release, Apple TV+ subscribers who are not signed up for the MLS stream will be able to watch a limited number of matches.
According to The Athletic fans will not be able to watch matches of their local teams on a local TV broadcast. To watch these matches, fans will need to sign up for the Apple TV MLS stream. MLS full-season ticket packages will also include access to the MLS stream. Also, users can subscribe to the MLS stream without having to subscribe to Apple TV+.
At launch, MLS and Leagues Cup matches will have English and Spanish announcers, and matches involving Canadian clubs will have French announcers. The Athletic reported that there is a possibility that only staff one set of commentators will eventually be used for Apple TV+ matches.
Apple has not yet released details on pricing, how to sign up, and specifics on programming–those details will be revealed before the start of the 2023 MLS season in late February or early March.
Awful Announcing says that Apple’s deal with MLS is worth a minimum of $2.5 billion, with the rate flexible depending on subscribers. The deal reportedly leaves room for MLS to negotiate with “linear partners” such as ESPN, Univision, and Fox, which is currently under contract with until the end of the current season. Those three networks reportedly paid $90 million per season–so Apple’s deal is a very aggressive move for the company to grow its sports coverage on Apple TV.
The Apple/MLS deal follows the announcement of the July 2022 schedule for its Friday Night Baseball showcase. Apple also made WWDC announcements that highlight sports coverage in the new Live Activities feature and is rumored to be negotiating with the NFL.