Apple TV+ Will Be the Exclusive Streaming Home of All MLS Matches Through 2032

by Elizabeth Parks | Jul. 8, 2022

This is an excerpt from Parks Associates OTT Video Market Tracker, a monthly and quarterly research publication covering the N. American OTT Service Market.

This month, Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced a deal making Apple the exclusive streaming home for every single live MLS match, starting in 2023 through 2032. The deal is a major marker in sports history. It is the first time that a major sports league has given fans access to all of its content on one single platform. This includes subscriber access to all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches, without any local broadcast blackouts or the requirement of access through a pay-tv bundle. Subscribers will also get a new weekly whip-around show, game replays, highlights, analysis, and other programming. Throughout 2022, Apple and MLS will roll out more details regarding pricing, streaming schedules, post, and pregame coverage, and more.

Market Impact

It has been a busy summer for the Apple TV sports programming department. Apple TV+ announced and began airing live Major League Baseball games in May 2022. Currently, the service broadcasts a doubleheader every Friday evening in eight nations throughout the regular season. Forbes reported that Apple may pay MLB over $600 million over the course of a seven-year agreement. However, the deal details were not released.

Apple continued to take a bite out of the sports media rights market by announcing on June 14, 2022, that Apple TV+ will become the exclusive streaming home for Major League Soccer (MLS) for the next ten years. Fans may access every live MLS match from early 2023 through 2032 by subscribing to a new MLS streaming app that is exclusive to Apple TV+. This is excellent news for cord-cutting soccer fans. The arrangement is valued at $2.5 billion, or $250 million annually for MLS. According to the press release, Major League Soccer has more than doubled in size to twenty-nine teams in the last 15 years, making it the fastest-growing soccer league in the world. 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. According to Major League Soccer, MLS boasts the largest international player pool of all North American sports, and its fan base is one of the youngest and most diversified audiences in North American sports.

Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Services, said that for the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to get everything from a major professional sports league in one location. It is a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer lovers, and sports enthusiasts in general. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, also loved it, to the extent that he tweeted about it.

For MLS, it is a positive development for their league to be associated with a top tech company like Apple. Everything living in one app is positive growth for MLS fans, plus no more blackouts. The price for consumers has not been determined, and it is still unknown if any live linear TV rights will be picked up now that the exclusivity may be off the table with every match being on Apple TV+. The sports world was buzzing regarding this deal as it pushes exclusive media rights to a streaming SVOD service. This may be the first of its kind, but it will not be the last, as media rights for the Big Ten, NASCAR, the Big 12, the Pac-12, and the NBA will soon be available on the open market.

Parks Associates has studied the video entertainment market for over 35 years. For more information on our research services, please visit www.parksassociates.com or contact any of our team.

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