Apple signs $2.5 billion streaming deal with MLS

Apple has announced that the company will be the exclusive streaming holder for Major League Soccer games for the next 10 years, in a deal said to be worth some $2.5 billion.

The company announced:

Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) today announced that the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023. This partnership is a historic first for a major professional sports league, and 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.

Front Office Sports reports that the deal is said to be worth $2.5 billion, with Apple paying $250 million a year for the games, which include both MLS and League Cup Games, and MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT Matches. According to Sports Business Journal, Apple is not paying a straight rights fee for the package, but rather a minimum guarantee.

From next year, every single MLS game will be streamed exclusively on the Apple TV app through a new MLS subscription you can only access through Apple. There will be no local blackouts and no pay TV bundles. Aside from streaming, games will still be available on local TV stations, so the exclusivity of the deal pertains to streaming only, and Apple will be the only place you can see every single game.

The service will include all match content, a new weekly live show, game replays, highlights, analysis, and original programming.

You’ll be able to watch on any device with internet access on the Apple TV including its best iPhones, iPad, Apple TV, and compatible smart TVs, as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

Apple’s Eddy Cue said “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”, which he said was “a dream come true for MLS fans.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber said, “Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans.”

All games will include announces in both English and Spanish, as well as French for matches involving Canadian teams. Full details of the move including the price of the new subscription will be announced “in the coming months.”

It’s important to note this is not part of Apple TV+ and will require fans to purchase a new separate subscription if they want to watch games. However, Apple says “a broad selection” of games will be made available to Apple TV+ subscribers, and that a limited number of games will be free. Access to the streaming services will also be included in the purchase price of MLS full-season ticket packages.

Apple is already streaming live baseball on Friday Nights over on Apple TV+.

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