Apple announced Tuesday that it has a deal with Major League Soccer to have the exclusive rights to broadcast MLS matches for the next 10 years. Beginning in 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 with no blackout restrictions, so you can watch every match from anywhere.
The MLS stream includes all MLS, Leagues Cup and selected 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 to the MLS stream will be able to watch a limited number of matches.
According to The Athletic, fans will not be able to watch their local teams’ matches on a local TV broadcast. To watch these matches, fans will need to sign up for the Apple TV MLS stream. Full season MLS subscriptions also include access to the MLS stream.
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 eventually only one set of commentators will be used for Apple TV+ matches.
Apple hasn’t released details on pricing, how to sign up, and programming details yet — those details will be revealed before the start of the 2023 MLS season, in late February or early March.
Awful Announcing says Apple’s deal with MLS is worth at least $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, currently in a contract through 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 increase its sports coverage on Apple TV.
The Apple/MLS deal follows the announcement of the July 2022 schedule for the Friday Night Baseball showcase. Apple has also made WWDC announcements highlighting sports coverage in its new Live Activities feature and said it is in negotiations with the NFL.