MLS chooses Apple for its exclusive global media rights in a 10-year contract

MLS sold all of its global media rights exclusively to Apple, becoming the first major sports league in the United States to go all-in with a digital media company. MLS is still negotiating with linear television networks, including ESPN and Fox. However, these games will not be exclusive to broadcasters; they would broadcast at the same time as Apple. MLS executives said Apple did not pay a direct rights fee for the rights package. Rather, Apple pays a minimum guarantee, which sources say costs $ 250 million a year, starting at age 23. MLS will start generating more revenue as Apple sells subscriptions to a recently launched MLS subscription offer. “The difference here is that media companies traditionally pay royalties and you sell ads,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “This is a partnership. And the core of this partnership is a subscription business that we will build together and receive a guarantee against the revenue that will be generated by the subscription business. Then, by looking at these guarantees, we will have the opportunity to make more money, which is really unique in the sports media. “

Pictured (left to right): MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple’s senior vice president / services Eddie Kew in New YorkApple Inc.

THE SIGN IN THE SPORT MAY CHANGE: The deal potentially represents a huge change in sports media, as leagues and conferences have spent most of the decade trying to persuade deep-pocket digital companies like Apple to invest more in sports content. Apple, which recently struck a deal with MLB, has been involved in numerous discussions over the past few years, but it is its biggest advancement in the sport to date. “There has never been a league with a single place where you can watch every game,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services. Under the terms of Apple’s MLS deal, there will be an indefinite number of games available for free through the AppleTV app. Apple’s streaming service, AppleTV +, will also bring more games. However, the main component of this deal is a subscription service that every MLS game will have without interruption.

THE PACKAGE INCLUDES EVERY GAME: The unnamed streaming service will live on the Apple TV app and will include every game, including those that were previously part of ESPN, Fox and Univision’s national TV packages, as well as those broadcast locally. level of individual club deals. The newly expanded League Cup, which includes every MLS and Liga MX club, will also be included in the service, and MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches will be selected. The MLS and Apple executives said they have not yet developed a price point for the service, but all MLS season ticket holders will have access to the package at no extra charge. MLS will produce all its matches, something Garber said would require a “significant” investment, but would ensure consistency in the league and allow more technological innovation.

The streaming service, which is not yet named in the Apple TV app, will have every game, including those that were previously part of the national TV packagesGary Vazquez / USA TODAY Sports

APPLE APPEALING DEAL: MLS has planted the seeds for this type of comprehensive deal in recent years, instructing each of its teams to ensure that their local broadcasting agreements expire by the end of season 22. The fact that MLS can offer all its games without geographical restrictions or individual elements has made the package particularly attractive to Apple, Kew said. Another attraction for Apple: MLS advertises its young and technological fan base. Survey data show that the average MLS fan is 39.6 years old and that Generation Z and Millennials make up 58% of its fan base. Apple’s deal with MLS will begin next season, coinciding with the restructuring of the MLS schedule, in which most regular season games will be played on Saturday night. Holding a series of matches on Saturday night with distributed opening hours will allow the league to offer a fun show similar to the NFL Red Zone through its new streaming service and Apple TV +. There will still be some games in the middle of the week, mostly on Wednesday nights. Some matches may be played at other times based on stadium conflicts or a linear television schedule.

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