After years of struggling to gain ground in live sports broadcasting, Apple now appears to be on the right track. Following the arrival of Major League Baseball on Apple TV+, Apple is now partnering with Major League Soccer (MLS) in an even bigger deal to bring games exclusively to the Apple TV app.
Apple and MLS announcement the partnership today, adding that from next year the Apple TV app will be “the exclusive destination to watch every MLS game live.” This will continue until 2032 in what appears to be an exclusive ten-year deal.
In particular, it is not a AppleTV+ OK; that is, MLS will not be integrated with Apple’s own video streaming service. Instead, Apple will provide a new MLS streaming service exclusively through the Apple TV app.
Apple’s announcement doesn’t specify exactly how it will work. It looks like MLS will indeed be offered as an Apple TV channel, the same way Paramount+, Starz, Showtime and other premium content providers are delivered through the TV app.
The partnership is described as “a historic first for a major professional sports league,” and it goes far beyond what Apple has managed to accomplish with MLB. Whereas Friday night baseball is part of Apple TV+, it’s just a small segment of the much bigger MLB franchise.
By contrast, Apple’s partnership with Major League Soccer is about the entire MLS experience. Every live MLS match will be streamed through the Apple TV app, allowing fans to watch all MLS, League Cup matches and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches with no local broadcast interruptions.
The service will also naturally provide a plethora of bonus content, including a new weekly live match show, match replays, highlights, analysis and other original League-related programming, live and on-demand. .
Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans. Given Apple’s ability to create a top-notch user experience and reach fans everywhere, it will be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or a casual spectator.Don Garber, MLS commissioner
Apple TV+ subscribers won’t be entirely locked out of the game either; Apple says “a wide selection of MLS and League Cup games, including some of the biggest clashes, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of games available for free.”
Since the MLS streaming service will be delivered through Apple’s TV app, it will be available on all platforms where the TV app is already available. This naturally encompasses iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV, but also includes smart TVs from most major brands, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Chromecast devices, as well as PlayStation and Xbox. It will also be available through any web browser at tv.apple.com.
For the first time in sports history, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place. It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, football fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration – just the flexibility to sign up for a convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch. We look forward to enabling even more people to fall in love with MLS and put down roots with their favorite club.Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services
It’s not yet known in which countries the new MLS streaming service will be available, although Apple notes that all MLS and League Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish. Matches involving Canadian teams will also be available in French.
Today’s announcement is only a teaser. Apple says full details will be announced “in the coming months,” including subscription prices and when and how fans can start signing up. Apple and MLS will also offer more details on new programming, an enhanced game schedule, broadcast crews, production enhancements, and pre- and post-game coverage.