Apple Could Be Betting On Future Growth From Sports, How New MLS Deal May Help

Zinger Key Points
  • Apple landed the global streaming rights to all Major League Soccer matches.
  • The company is launching a new innovative league pass that could see Apple become a leader in live sports coverage.

Technology giant Apple Inc AAPL is one of the many companies fighting for a share of the highly competitive streaming market via its AppleTV+ offering. While the streaming platform doesn’t have the same hit shows or movies as some competitors, a bet on sports could be the big catalyst that puts Apple into the must-have streaming app conversation.

What Happened: Apple launched AppleTV+ in 2019 at a price point of $4.99 per month. Over the years, the streaming platform has added more shows and movies and also added streaming rights to sports leagues like Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.

The company announced a 10-year media rights deal with Major League Soccer in 2023. The deal gives Apple access to one of the fastest-growing soccer leagues in the world. The 10-year deal was worth an estimated $2.5 billion and marked one of the biggest bets on professional sports by a streaming company.

Apple will be the exclusive global home of streaming for live MLS games. Previous MLS partner Fox Sports, a unit of Fox Corp FOX, has renewed to maintain some linear television content. ESPN, a unit of The Walt Disney Company DIS, will no longer air any MLS content.

Apple previously announced that it would stream every single MLS match without any local blackouts or restrictions, and shared more details of its plan on Wednesday.

AppleTV+ will offer coverage of several games for subscribers and will also offer the MLS Season Pass, offering every single regular season, Cup match and playoff game with no blackouts. The company said this was the first time in live sports broadcasting that blackout and local coverage would not be included.

Matches will be offered with announcers in both English and Spanish. Games featuring Canadian teams will also feature French announcers for subscribers who wish to choose the option.

The MLS Season Pass will be offered for $14.99 per month or $99 for the season. Existing AppleTV+ subscribers can purchase the MLS Season Pass for $12.99 per month or $79 for the season. The pass will be available in over 100 countries.

“For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” Apple’s Senior Vice President of Services Eddy Cue previously said.

The MLS season kicks off on Feb. 25, 2023.

Related Link: Apple Rides On Historoci Oscar Win, Dangles Free Friday Nigh Baseball Games On AppleTV+

Why It's Important: Several streaming companies have been ramping up their sports content, including platforms launched by traditional media companies. Amazon.com Inc AMZN landed NFL rights to Thursday Night Football games and offers them to its Prime subscribers.

Apple has landed rights for Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. Viewership for MLS matches could see a boost in the 2023 season thanks to the recent 2022 World Cup, which was widely watched by U.S. viewers. The 2026 World Cup will be held in North America, which could increase interest in the MLS over the next few years.
Rights to additional NFL content saw Apple among the bidders, before withdrawing from the race, leading Alphabet Inc GOOGGOOGL to win the package.
The National Basketball Association has TV rights expiring after the 2024-2025 season and the league is eager to work with a digital partner, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The successful launch of MLS Season Pass and drawing fans to the all-in-one platform could serve as a test run before pitching a similar package to the NBA.
Streaming leader Netflix Inc NFLX has yet to pursue the live sports market, but announced it would test live comedy specials, which could open the door for live sports content down the road.
Apple’s library of original content is smaller when compared to companies like Netflix and Disney. The company has several hit shows that have been praised by critics and viewers and received their share of awards. Top shows on AppleTV+ have included “Ted Lasso,” “Severance,” “Black Bird” and “The Morning Show.”

Why It’s Important: With sports rights, Apple could continue to grow its subscriber count and be able to raise prices over the coming years, bringing in a growing revenue stream. 

Read Next: 2022 World Cup Helps Subscribers Flock To Peacock, Does Comcast Have A Hit Revenue Driver? 

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