At long last, the media rights are sorted. From MLS release:
NEW YORK, NY & CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA (Tuesday,June 14,2022) – Apple and Major League Soccer 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.
The MLS live and on-demand content on the Apple TV app will be available to anyone with internet access across all devices where the app can be found, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD; Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, TCL, VIZIO, and other smart TVs; Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices; PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles; Chromecast with Google TV; and Comcast Xfinity. Fans can also watch on tv.apple.com.
“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Given Apple’s ability to create a best-in-class user experience and to reach fans everywhere, it’ll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or casual viewer.”
“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,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services. “It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration — just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch. We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”
At launch, all MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French. Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage for fans to easily follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights right in the News app.
Complete details for the new service, including when fans can sign up, subscription pricing, specific details about the new MLS programming, an improved match schedule, broadcast teams, production enhancements, and pre- and postgame coverage — as well as all the ways fans will be able to enjoy MLS content across the Apple ecosystem — will be announced in the coming months.
Major League Soccer is the fastest-growing soccer league in the world, more than doubling in size to 29 clubs over the last 15 years. The momentum will continue as soccer will grow throughout North America on the road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico. With players representing 82 countries, MLS has the most global player pool in all sports, and its fan base is one of the youngest, most diverse audiences in North American sports.
Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.
About Major League SoccerMajor League Soccer release
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer — celebrating its 27th season in 2022 — features 29 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, including 2022 expansion team Charlotte FC and St. Louis CITY SC, which debuts in 2023. Starting in 2023, the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.
That everything is on a single service is an obvious positive – the rumors of piecemeal deals were… less than ideal – though the fact that it’s not one as ubiquitous as, say, ESPN+ is a slight downer. The lack of local blackouts and need for a cable provider probably makes up for it, at least to some extent.
All told, without the financial details (not revealed for obvious reasons, though obviously some intrepid reporters are going to unearth that in due time), it’s essentially as-expected. The volume of cash changing hands is really the only piece that’s going to determine whether it’s a good or bad deal for MLS.