CUPERTINO, Calif.—In another major example of how streamers are piling into the sports business, Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) have announced a major deal that will make the Apple TV app the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match.
The deal begins in 2023 and runs through 2032. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Apple is calling the deal “a historic first for a major professional sports league,” because it 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 addition to all of the match content, the service will provide fans a new weekly live match whip-around show as well as game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming, Apple announced.
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. As an added benefit to fans, access to the new MLS 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.”
“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” said Don Garber, MLS’s commissioner. “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.”
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 MLS streaming 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 will be announced in the coming months, Apple said.
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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