Apple and Major League Soccer’s deal to exclusively broadcast all games on a streaming platform with no blackouts could point to where sports broadcasting could be heading in the future.
Apple and MLS announced a 10-year deal, starting with the 2023 season, to broadcast every MLS game on a “new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app.”
This means the only way to watch Real Salt Lake games in 2023 is to subscribe to Apple’s MLS streaming service. Fans will be able to watch every MLS game with no blackout restrictions — a first for a major sports league’s streaming service.
For example, the NBA’s streaming service — NBA League Pass — allows fans to watch every regular-season NBA game — except for games in your local market and games on national TV, like ESPN and TNT. In Utah, fans are blacked out from watching Utah Jazz games on NBA League Pass and had to subscribe to a cable or satellite package, like Xfinity or DirecTV, or a streaming service package, like FuboTV or DirecTV Now, that included AT&T Sportsnet, the TV home of the Jazz. The Jazz’s current TV deal expired at the end of the 2021-22 season.
As “cutting the cord” has become more popular, with people ditching traditional cable and satellite formats for streaming services, many fans have wanted blackouts to end once current TV deals for major sports leagues have expired. MLS is the first major sports league to do so in its new TV agreement.
Pricing for Apple’s MLS streaming service has not yet been announced yet. Apple is paying “a minimum guarantee that sources say is worth $250M per year starting in 2023,” per Sports Business Journal. MLS season ticket holders will get the service for free.
Per Apple, the Apple TV app is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD; Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, TCL, VIZIO, and other smart TVs; Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices; PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles; Chromecast with Google TV; and Comcast Xfinity. Fans can also watch on the web on tv.apple.com.
“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,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, in a press release. “It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports.
“No fragmentation, no frustration — just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch. We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”