Apple TV+ Strikes Exclusive 10-Year Deal for Major League Soccer

Originally published at: Apple TV+ Strikes Exclusive 10-Year Deal for Major League Soccer - TidBITS

Apple-using fans of the US’s Major League Soccer have reason to celebrate—Apple has acquired the exclusive rights to stream all MLS games on Apple TV+ for 10 years, starting in early 2023.

Josh,

It’ll definitely be an additional price. Apple’s news article makes that clear.

“From early 2023 through 2032, fans can get every live MLS match by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app.”

With that said, this may well be exciting for MLS fans. It appears there are no blackouts so you won’t have to subscribe to your local regional sports network (RSN) in order to see all of the games.

Since Apple now will own the MLS streaming rights, they could say “If you buy an iPhone 14 Pro or better, we’ll give you a 30% discount on the streaming subscription “. I think MLS is probably the smallest professional sports league (no offense meant) so it’s a good place for Apple to start. I’m sure MLS is hoping this deal not only brings them the money, but more exposure via Apple.

If Apple could get a deal like this done with MLB (no blackouts, watch every game or every game of your chosen team(s), they could take my money today. Unfortunately, there are large TV deals standing in the way of that for now.

Bob

My guess is that Apple is more likely to offer a few months of a subscription for free like they have done for TV+ in the past. What I think could be very interesting is Apple News could maybe build out its own freestanding sports news channel, or maybe channels.

MLS is a relatively new, and rapidly up and coming popular league in the US, it’s been huge globally for many decades. And in the US, dedicated soccer fans tend to be younger than baseball or football, and the % of teenagers that own Apple devices, particularly iPhones and iPhones, has been huge:

Maybe I’m wrong, and because I’m not a sports fan that closely follows sports news, I haven’t seen pricing information from Apple about this new service.

I didn’t see anything like this coming. Did anybody? I hope Apple TV subscribers can opt out of paying for soccer, and maybe just get soccer, which I would like to see becoming a trend (instead of a dream). I don’t get Apple TV and I don’t watch soccer, but with Youtube TV, I pay for pro football, pro basketball, baseball, and soccer, but I never watch them. I watch plenty of sports, just not those, and I would pay for sports I’m not currently getting (like more NHL, tennis, and cycling) except that I pay too much for stuff I don’t watch.

Even though soccer seems to have a unique following, now I’ll be surprised if Apple doesn’t build with other sports deals. A great many don’t watch sports, but those that do are probably very reliable customers for their favorite sports.

Good catch. We’ve fixed it now.

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As a huge soccer and MLS fan (I’ve been following the league since it started in the mid-90s and used to have season tickets to the Earthquakes when I lived in the Bay Area), I am semi-excited about this idea. The rub is in all the details.

I’ve paid for sports packages in the past on my satellite TV and was always frustrated with the convoluted blackout rules that stopped me from watching certain games I’d paid for (even though I wasn’t local and blackout should apply). So Apple’s “no blackouts” sounds good — except it sounds like it means no more MLS on TV anywhere, which is bad.

I’m rural with poor, limited internet, so streaming is difficult and I record from TV if at all possible. I also like to set my mom’s tivo to record local Portland Timbers games as she’s mildly interested, but she’ll never bother with the hassle of streaming. (With her TiVo she can fast forward through the boring parts.)

MLS is currently streamed on espn and it’s terrible: I canceled my espn streaming sub because you really could only watch the games live. If you went to watch a replay, just browsing through the archive would show you the final scores of the games, making it pointless to watch them! I’ve been “tine-shifting” with VCR and DVR since the 90s and never watch live, so the whole service is useless to me. If Apple can do a better job of hiding the scores, it might be viable, but I’m not going to hold my breath considering the way “sports scores” are touted as a feature in Siri and other places (I turn all that stuff off and never even visit soccer websites because they ruin the results for me).

The Apple deal doesn’t start until next year, so we’ll see how this works. Maybe by then Musk will get me my Starlink internet (I’ve been waiting over a year and a half after paying my deposit).

I’ve been surfing around trying to find out whether Apple’s MLS deal will include selling advertising, or if it would be ad free like the rest of Apple TV+. I could not find an answer.

It looks like Apple will begin selling advertising sooner rather than later:

Apple is reportedly building a live TV advertising network as part of its MLS deal