Apple Strikes 10-Year Deal for Major League Soccer Rights

·2 min read

In its most expansive move into live sports yet, tech giant Apple will become the exclusive home for Major League Soccer matches globally beginning in 2023.

Apple will launch a new MLS streaming service that will include every game, with “a broad selection” of matches and the Leagues Cup available as part of the Apple TV+ subscription. Some games will also stream for free.

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Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though a source familiar with the talks pegged the deal at $250 million per year. Broadcast and production details, as well as pricing on the stand-alone app, is still to be revealed.

Apple says that all games will stream in English and Spanish, with Canadian teams also getting a French-language feed. Apple will also make highlights available in the Apple News app.

The deal is significant, as all rights will be housed within one company for the first time. While such a move is not unheard of with smaller sports rights deals, MLS is the biggest league yet to move to an exclusive deal. The NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL all carve out their rights between multiple networks and streaming platforms.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

That being said, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that the league was also working on deals to simulcast games on linear broadcast networks, in the early years of the Apple deal.

Apple only signed its first major sports deal just a few months ago, securing rights to Friday evening MLB games, which it streams for free. It is also said to be exploring a deal with the NFL for its Sunday Ticket package.

Amazon is the other major streaming service investing aggressively in sports, taking over NFL Thursday Night Football later this year in a 10-year, multi-billion dollar deal. The company also has some international tennis and soccer rights.

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

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