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The Margin: Apple scores MLS streaming rights for a reported $250 million a year


Apple TV is becoming Major League Soccer’s new home.

Apple Inc.

and the MLS announced on Tuesday that beginning in 2023, MLS games will be exclusively available on the Apple TV app.

“It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”

Apple is gaining the streaming rights for “all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT” matches over the next decade, according to the announcement. And Apple’s MLS programming will also include a new weekly live match, a “whip-around show” so that fans can see every goal, game replays and highlights, as well as some original programming.

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The financial terms of the deal were not announced, and neither Apple nor the MLS were immediately available for comment. Sports Business Journal estimated the 10-year deal is worth $250 million per season beginning in 2023, citing sources.

The MLS’s current media rights deal is with ESPN, Univision and Fox, and will expire after the 2022 season. Apple TV+ matches will not be subject to blackout restrictions, a change from the MLS’s current streaming agreement.

The deal announcement did not mention how much the MLS package will cost viewers, either. But Apple said that its Apple TV+ subscribers, who already pay $4.99 a month, will get to stream a “broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including some of the biggest matchups” at no additional cost, with a limited number of matches for free for subscribers.

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This isn’t Apple’s first live-sports agreement. Apple also has an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball to stream “Friday Night Baseball” on Apple TV+. And it’s the latest example of non-traditional TV companies making bids for live sports television rights. Amazon purchased the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package last year, for example.

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