Apple have made their second exclusive sports franchise capture following the official announcement of a decade-long deal with Major League Soccer.
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.
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. In addition to all of the match content, the service will provide fans a new weekly live match whip-around show so they never miss an exciting goal or save, and also game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming. This live and on-demand MLS content will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes views of the players and clubs that fans love. A broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including some of the biggest matchups, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free. As an added benefit to fans, access to the new MLS streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages.
Some important points to note from Apple’s announcement:
- This deal should not be viewed as a value addition to existing Apple TV+ subscriptions - though some games will be available to TV+ subscribers and to TV app users at no additional cost. Instead, there will be a “new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app.” A continuation of Apple’s a-la-carte Channels subscription offerings, with the upcoming service exclusive to the TV app. The move should help maintain the relative low-cost subscription of Apple TV+ for non-sports fans.
- The sub-heading to today’s release states that Apple and MLS will “present all MLS matches around the world.” Note that there are no specific details on region availability or timelines. Potential global viewers should expect a similar rollout to that of MLB Friday Night Baseball with more regions joining the on-pitch action over time. North America is further mentioned with specificity.
- With access to all MLS and Leagues Cup games, subscribers can expect access to in excess of 1000 games per season. MLS Next Pro and MLS Next will also stream select matches and that should spark specific interest from fans of some top European clubs who will use the newly introduced supplemental leagues to further develop upcoming prospects.
In conclusion, this is a fantastic coup for Apple as it secures a rapidly-growing league with an equally rabid young following. Expect the deal between Apple and the MLS to only increase in significance either-side of the highly anticipated 2026 World Cup in North America.