Major League Soccer became the first major U.S. sports league to fully bet on streaming.
Apple and MLS struck a 10-year streaming rights deal beginning in 2023, and the Apple TV app will be the exclusive home of every live MLS match without any local broadcast blackouts or restrictions.
The new MLS streaming service will be available exclusively through the Apple TV app, and also will give fans a weekly live whip-around show (similar to NFL Red Zone), game replays, highlights and other original programming.
A “broad selection” of MLS and Leagues Cup matches will be available to Apple TV+ subscribers at no cost, and a “limited number” of matches will be in front of the paywall. For season ticket holders, the new MLS streaming service comes included.
“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 svp of services, in a statement. “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.”
No details yet about subscription pricing or programming, but Apple said updates will be coming in the next few months. And fans don’t need to have an Apple TV to access the service: the Apple TV app is available on pretty much any connected TV platform or mobile device.
While financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed (MLS was seeking up to $300 million), Sports Business Journal reports that Apple is paying a minimum guarantee of $250 million per year.
MLS and Apple are planning to create a production studio, hire presenters and get English, Spanish and French-speaking announcers.
The deal does not include linear rights. ESPN and Fox are among those still negotiating to lock down games, but those would not be exclusive to broadcasters, and instead simulcast with Apple. ESPN, Fox and Univision previously had the rights to MLS.