Tuesday’s announcement of a 10-year deal between Apple TV and Major League Soccer worth at least $2.5 billion was historic on several levels, according to reports.
It will start next year and run until 2032.The agreement will make every MLS game available through the Apple TV app without any cut-off restrictions for a fee yet to be announced.
We’ve seen leagues dabbling with sub-packages of games on streaming devices – Amazon streams NFL games on Thursdays, for example, and Apple TV has some rights to MLB – this MLS deal is the first to take a major sport and bring it fully to streaming. Platform. I spoke about the revolutionary nature of this on the Daily Delivery podcast on Wednesday.
What does this mean for the league and its fans? What questions remain unanswered? Let’s dig into the good, the bad and the unknown.
All in all, it looks like an MLS win. Let’s start with the financial impact of the new deal.
Athletic reported that Major League Soccer’s ongoing media rights deals to ESPN, Fox, and Univision have generated about $90 million for the league for the season.
The new deal with Apple is reported to guarantee the league at least $250 million a year, with an option to increase if a certain subscription threshold is reached.
This will put millions of dollars in the pockets of the teams and increase the salaries of the players, since the salary cap is tied to media revenues.
This is also great news for fans of just MLS. Since there are no local shutdown restrictions, fans in each market will have access to every league game for a fee. If you are a season ticket holder of any MLS team, you will receive the games for free. It’s a smart investment by the league that rewards those who have been the most loyal. The MLS has been well placed to do this because it’s not as expensive as other major US men’s leagues and because many of its fans are already used to streaming content.
In a statement announcing the move on Tuesday, Apple’s Eddie Cue said, “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 an MLS fan’s dream come true. , football fans and everyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration – just the ability to subscribe to one convenient service that gives you all the MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch.”
He received part of this right.
As I mentioned, it’s great if you’re an MLS fan. Subscribe. Get all games. Simple and perhaps economical, if that’s all you’re interested in.
But if you are a fan of all sports? This could be another step in a process that actually makes watching sports more cumbersome and expensive.
Let’s say you planned to buy a Bally Sports Plus streaming subscription for $19.99 per month as soon as it becomes available (no later than this summer). Prior to this announcement, this gave you access to nearly all Minnesota United matches (on BSN) in addition to Wolves, Wilds, Twins, Lynx and more.
You will now pay this amount plus the cost of the MLS package if you wish to access the Loons in addition to other teams.
If more teams and leagues end up moving to this model, consumers could end up paying for a lot of different things at different places that they used to get in one place.
MLS is also in danger of becoming less visible by diminishing its presence with more traditional broadcast partners. While it seems like there will still be a bundle of games on ESPN in the future, the move makes it clear that Apple TV is the primary home for MLS. Not only will games no longer be on regional sports networks (like Bally’s), Athletic said, but broadcasts will be centralized and streamlined with a dozen or so teams sharing all the games. So no local broadcast teams.
However, it should be noted that both Minnesota United voices Callum Williams and Kindra de St. Aubyn welcomed the move on Twitter.
With something this fresh, there are bound to be questions that won’t be answered for a while, but that deserve attention.
Among them: How much will this subscription actually cost? Based on any advertised price, how many people will sign up? And is this the wave of the future for other leagues as the rights expire in the coming years?
All this should be interesting to watch, even if the places to watch change.