In 2023, the new world will be brave to broadcast MLS matches.
Major League Soccer and Apple today announced a 10-year streaming deal. Starting in 2023, a new MLS streaming service will be available exclusively through the Apple TV app, home to every live MLS match. The streaming service will also show League Cup matches and select MLS Next Pro and MLS Next matches.
In an important update for out-of-market audiences, none of the matches on Apple TV will be subject to local blackout restrictions.
The deal is reportedly valued at $250 million annually, which represents a very significant increase in the amount of revenue that MLS is receiving for its current media rights deal.
MLS is still in negotiations with linear broadcasting providers (such as current league partners ESPN and FOX), so a number of MLS games on various national TV channels will still go forward (as well as on the streaming platform).
Additionally, a selection of games will be available on the Apple TV+ streaming service (separate from the League’s streaming service). Some matches will also be provided on the Apple TV platform for free.
Fans who want to watch the games will not need to have an Apple TV + subscription to watch the matches. MLS will roll out its separate app and subscription within the Apple TV app itself, which can be downloaded for free.
In a significant development, this new deal will mean the end of local television broadcasting. With all matches heading to the new Apple TV streaming platform, MLS games will no longer be available on local cable or OTA options. The league will produce all matches themselves, which means fans will not be able to watch matches on local affiliates, such as Fox 12+ and ROOT Sports in Portland.
As for on-air broadcasters, the association announced that there will be an option to choose audio from local game radio broadcasts on Apple TV. So even though local TV deals have expired, fans in local markets will still have the option to listen to local voices.
It is not clear how the different audio stream options will affect the Closed Caption feature on match broadcasts and how subtitles will be available for all audio options.
In addition to match content, the streaming service will offer a weekly show highlighting the highlights from across the league. To facilitate this, all matches starting in the 2023 season will be played in only two match windows during the week: Wednesday nights for midweek matches and Saturday nights for weekend matches. There will also be additional MLS-focused content on Apple TV, including pre- and post-match coverage as well as other stories from across the league.
Full details of the new streaming service – such as price point, broadcast details and full programming details – will be released by the league at a later date. We know that MLS team season ticket holders will get access to the streaming service when released, at no additional charge.
New details will be available in the coming months, but what we can say for sure is that the new deal between MLS and Apple represents a shift in how MLS as a league is viewed and consumed by fans over the next decade – or perhaps more. .
You can read the full press release from the league about the deal here.