Examining the Implications: In-Depth Analysis of Exclusive Apple MLS Streaming Deal

Apple Secures Exclusive MLS Streaming Rights

In a groundbreaking move, Apple has recently secured the exclusive streaming rights for Major League Soccer (MLS) matches for the next decade. This lucrative deal is estimated to generate approximately $250 million per year for the US soccer league. While certain games may still be aired on television, Apple will provide access to every single MLS match through their streaming platform.

NYCFC wins the 2021 MLS Cup Championship

Championship Victories Drive Media Interest

When New York City Football Club (NYCFC) emerged victorious over Portland to claim the 2021 MLS Cup Championship, it heightened the appeal of MLS media rights. Media outlets thrive on major market championship victories, creating a significant buzz and attracting a wider audience.

Advantages for MLS Punters and Fans

Starting in 2023, the exclusive streaming deal will streamline the viewing experience for MLS fans. With a single provider for every match, local blackouts will become a thing of the past. Gone will be the days of searching through a patchwork of media providers to find the specific match fans want to watch. The convenience and accessibility of all MLS matches in one place will undoubtedly enhance the viewing experience.

Apple’s Expanding Sports Portfolio

Although relatively new to sports media, Apple is making significant strides in this domain. In March, the tech giant secured its first sports media deal, gaining the rights to MLB’s Friday Night package. Rumors suggest that negotiations are already underway for Apple to acquire the NFL’s Sunday Ticket.

Recognizing the potential of a stand-alone streaming service, the NFL is also contemplating its own platform. If Apple succeeds with its MLS offering, it might pave the way for Apple and the NFL to establish a similar joint venture.

Apple’s entry into sports media began with producing original programming. Their acclaimed series, Ted Lasso, based on English Premier League soccer, has captivated audiences worldwide. Apple Original Films recently emerged victorious in a bidding war for an F1-based movie featuring A-list actor Brad Pitt. Furthermore, Apple is diving into the realm of sports documentaries.

With four new sports docuseries in the pipeline, including titles like “They Call Me Magic” and “The Long Game” focused on the NBA, Apple aims to explore various sporting narratives. “Make or Break” will offer an insider’s perspective into the World Surf League Championship, while “Greatness Code” will explore the defining moments in achieving athletic stardom.

However, for Apple to succeed in securing an NFL streaming deal, they will need to go beyond producing documentaries. It is crucial for Apple to demonstrate that taking on the exclusive global partnership with MLS is not an undertaking too great for them to handle.

Apple’s Model Brings Upside Rewards for Leagues

By acquiring the streaming rights for MLS, Apple has assumed a significant responsibility. They will now be streaming all MLS matches, including those previously part of national TV packages or under the control of individual clubs. This encompasses matches from the MLS Leagues Cup, select MLS NEXT Pro, and MLS Next competitions. Apple’s coverage will extend to multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and even French for games involving Canadian teams.

In addition to live match coverage, Apple will also host a weekly MLS show, similar to the popular NFL Red Zone. This show will showcase ongoing match highlights, further immersing fans in the action. However, what truly sets Apple apart is their unique approach to subscription fees.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber underlines the significance of the partnership, stating, “What’s different here is traditionally media companies pay rights fees, and you sell ads. This is a partnership. The core of this partnership is a subscription business. While we meet the guaranteed figures, we have the opportunity to generate additional revenue, which is truly unique in sports media.”

Considerations for Viewers

While this approach offers upside rewards for leagues, viewers may experience certain downsides. Apple acknowledges that some matches will be available for free streaming, particularly for MLS season ticket holders who may access selected content without extra charges. However, it is likely that Apple will charge an additional fee on top of the existing Apple TV Plus subscription for comprehensive access to the MLS package. Currently, Apple has not disclosed the subscription price points for MLS streaming.

Furthermore, it should be noted that Apple has yet to develop an Apple TV app for Android phones and tablets. This means that Android users might be limited to accessing MLS games through a web browser, which may not provide the same seamless experience as a dedicated app.


The exclusive streaming rights deal between Apple and MLS marks a significant milestone in sports media. By offering comprehensive coverage of all MLS matches and additional content, Apple is expanding its presence in the sports industry. While there are advantages for both fans and MLS leagues, viewers should be mindful of potential additional fees and platform limitations. Apple’s foray into sports media showcases their ambition, and only time will tell if they can effectively handle the evolving landscape of sports streaming.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What other sports media deals has Apple secured?

Apple’s entry into sports media began with the acquisition of MLB’s Friday Night package and the production of original programming. They have also won the rights to produce an F1-based movie featuring Brad Pitt and have several sports docuseries in the works, covering subjects such as the NBA, the World Surf League, and the journeys to athletic stardom.

2. Will all MLS matches be available for free streaming?

While Apple plans to offer some matches for free, particularly to MLS season ticket holders, it is likely that there will be additional charges for complete access to the MLS package. The specific subscription price points for MLS streaming have not been revealed by Apple.

3. Can Android users access MLS games on Apple’s streaming platform?

Currently, Apple does not have an Apple TV app for Android devices. This means that Android users may need to access MLS games through a web browser, which may not provide the same optimized experience as a dedicated app.

4. Will Apple’s MLS streaming deal impact local blackouts?

Starting in 2023, Apple’s exclusive streaming rights for MLS matches will eliminate local blackouts. Fans will no longer be restricted from watching matches based on their geographical location, enhancing accessibility for viewers.

5. Are there plans for Apple to acquire streaming rights for other sports leagues?

While Apple’s focus has been on securing MLS streaming rights, there have been rumors of negotiations with the NFL for their Sunday Ticket. The success of Apple’s MLS offering may influence future joint ventures and collaborations with other sports leagues.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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