Major League Soccer spent years working to ensure all of its TV rights—local, national and international—expired this year, giving the league an opening to transform its broadcast strategy. Now it’s doing just that.
MLS and Apple announced a 10-year tie-up Tuesday that will see every match streamed on the tech giant’s platform. The league will produce a single broadcast for each game and offer them on a new subscription service available exclusively through the Apple TV app. The deal is worth a minimum of $250 million annually, according to people familiar with the agreement.
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“Partnering with the world’s most innovative company is an unparalleled opportunity to create an entirely new home to bring more MLS content than ever directly to our fans in one place,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “No matter if you’re a super fan or a casual viewer, we’re making it incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches.”
The Apple TV app is available across a wide range of platforms and devices, including smart TVs, Roku devices and at tv.apple.com. A limited number of matches will be free for everyone to view, and certain games will be free for subscribers to Apple TV+, Apple’s subscription video service. With a schedule built around Saturday evenings, MLS will also give Apple TV+ subscribers a whip-around show on match weekends. MLS season ticket-holders will have automatic access to MLS’ streaming service on the Apple TV app.
“This is a 10-year partnership,” Garber said in an interview. “Not a media rights deal—it’s a partnership.”
He added: “At some point we’ll be able to talk about the economics. I will tell you that this is a great financial deal for Major League Soccer that satisfies our goals.”
Including League Cup and youth matches, the service is expected to offer more than 1,000 matches annually. However, the league is retaining the ability to simulcast a number of games on linear networks as well.
“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,” Apple SVP of services Eddy Cue said in a statement. “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 and MLS are also offering “enhanced league and club coverage” in its Apple News app. Last week, Apple announced its biggest software updates for 2022, which included more sports functionality in the app. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, though there are guarantee and revenue share components.
“This is going to give us the rocket fuel that we need to elevate our league and capitalize on the momentum that we already have,” Garber said. “Today is a really, really historic day for our league.”
Apple announced a weekly MLB package in March on Apple TV+, its biggest sports deal to that point. The company has also been linked to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket service, which could leave DirecTV next year.
“There are skills that we think we have along with skills that MLS has that we think will make the production of the product better together,” Cue said in an interview. “There’s a huge list of ideas that we’ve already had… It’s going to be exciting and fun and I think the beginning of more things that you’ll see more people doing.”
(This story has been updated with details of the agreement in the headline and the second paragraph.)
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