Major League Soccer will be heading to a new media platform starting in 2023 with a new partner entering a lengthy deal.
Apple TV and MLS agreed on a 10-year coverage plan on Tuesday, the first-ever partnership between the companies that will allow fans to stream every single MLS match through the Apple TV app, without local blackouts or restrictions.
“We’re thinking about what is happening with the transition of sports viewership and fan engagement, going from what has been a traditional cable model over to what has become more of a streaming model,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a conference call with reporters. “Whether it’s entertainment or sports, fans are accessing their games in ways that are different than perhaps they did two, five years ago. And that’s going to be even more dramatic in the years to come.”
In addition to MLS matches, the partnership will include every Leagues Cup match, select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches, and is a one-stop shop for everything MLS-related. The new streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages for season-ticket members as a free service.
Apple TV will also televise a new weekly live match whip-around show, game replays, highlights, and analysis, and original programming, giving MLS fans a new place for everything regarding the league.
“That whip-around show will be as long as six hours because most of the games will start at 7 or 8 o’clock local, depending on when the club wants to have kickoff,” MLS Deputy Commissioner and President Gary Stevenson said. “But you can imagine what a Saturday night’s going to look like. It’s almost like Decision Day every single Saturday night where we’re in and out of games and there’s no more local restrictions. So the fan viewing experience is going to be very different.”
ESPN, ABC, and Fox Sports will remain the home for MLS regular season action during the 2022 season, with ESPN+’s streaming service also televising league matches.