Apple cuts a revenue-splitting deal with Major League Soccer

From Rachel Bachman and Tim Higgins' "Apple, Major League Soccer Strike 10-Year Streaming Deal for All MLS Games" posted Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal:

Apple and Major League Soccer unveiled a 10-year broadcasting deal for the league’s games, the iPhone-maker’s most significant move yet into sports that underscores the company’s growing ambitions for streaming.

The agreement will make the Apple TV app the home of all MLS matches, available to fans through a variety of programming options. Financial terms for the deal weren’t disclosed.

The scope of the deal is unprecedented, MLS Commissioner Don Garbersaid Tuesday. He noted that the league has “the youngest, the most diverse, the most digitally native fans anywhere in the world.”

The agreement makes MLS the most significant American sports league to move all of its games to a streaming service, rather than the bulk of games appearing on cable or broadcast TV. From early 2023 through 2032, fans will access matches by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service available only through the Apple TV app. The price for the service wasn’t disclosed.

From the AP Wire:

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Apple is not paying a rights fee but rather a minimum guarantee against revenues that will be generated with both selling subscriptions.

“It’s part of what we both wanted. We’re in business together,” Garber said.

My take: MLS is not FIFA, which may be a good thing. I see that it was founded in 1993 as part of the US' bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and after some growing pains seems to have become profitable.

8 Comments

  1. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Not a big soccer fan. But they did build a brand new stadium (“Banc of California”) that was completed about a year ago immediately adjacent to the LA Coliseum for the two MLS Teams: The LA Galaxy; and Los Angeles FC. So they must be filling the place up with fans during soccer season and apparently the demand is there for these games both in person and for streaming.

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    June 14, 2022
  2. Chris De Armond said:
    It would be interesting to know the current viewership numbers for the US tv audience for US soccer.

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    June 14, 2022
    • Chris De Armond said:
      I see the article says “global broadcast (me: streaming?) rights”, not just US. Interesting.

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      June 14, 2022
  3. Steven Philips said:
    Does the AppleTV app work on non Apple devices?
    Can anyone sign up to AppleTV like they can to Amazon etc?

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    June 14, 2022
    • Roger Schutte said:
      Steven, Yes and Yes. You can watch AppleTV in a browser.

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      June 15, 2022
  4. Darren DMW said:
    @Stephen

    The appleTV app is available on LG, Sony & Samsung TVs as well as devices like Playstation.

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    June 14, 2022
  5. Roger Schutte said:
    If you are doubting the value in these sports streaming rights, then wait until you can experience these games from your home while wearing an Apple headset. You have to assume they’re going to be putting VR cameras in the best seats in the stadium, right? How much would you pay to sit at home but be ‘courtside’ for the next game of Celtics vs. Warriors? Tickets for that game are trading for $60k. How many diehard fans would pay $100 for the game and $3000 for a headset to get the next best thing? (Pay per view boxing is like $90 without an ESPN+ subscription.) If Apple has confidence in the headset and cameras, then NFL rights are next.

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    June 15, 2022
  6. Rodney Avilla said:
    fans will access matches by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service available only through the Apple TV app.

    Even if you have an Apple TV and a Apple+ tv plan, you still will need to $subscribe$ to the MLS service

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    June 15, 2022

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