Apple and Major League Soccer lit up their Season Pass streaming service today, bringing exclusive coverage of games and related programming to more than 100 countries in a groundbreaking venture.
The service costs $14.99 a month (or $99 for the full season) for those who do not subscribe to Apple TV+. For Apple TV+ subscribers, the cost is $12.99 a month ($79 for the season). While the pricing is toward the higher end of the general market spectrum, in the burgeoning area of sports streaming, it is below what many regional sports networks and others charge. Viewership, technology and strategy in the sports media business are all moving incrementally toward digital platforms, with Amazon and Google both joining Apple in making big bets on sports content recently. Disney’s ESPN+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Paramount+ and HBO Max have also made investments in sports.
Despite the larger shifts in the landscape, and the precedent set by Season Pass in terms of the extent to which it shifts an entire league’s action into streaming, a small linear TV component remains in place. Fox and Univision will air select MLS games in the U.S. (ESPN and ESPN+ had previously held rights.) Subscribers to Apple TV+ who don’t opt in to Season Pass, along with non-Apple TV+ subscribers, will also be able to watch a sampling of games at no extra charge.
The relationship between the league and the tech giant became official last year, and has brought about the most collaborative process yet by Apple with a third party on a streaming initiative. The company gained experience last year with its Friday night Major League Baseball streams and has been continuing to evaluate a number of potential new sports rights opportunities. But its partnership with MLS represents a step beyond legacy license agreements, enabling both parties to share information and expertise as they built the user interface and experience for a particular fan base.
Subscriber acquisition efforts will be conducted within the Apple TV ecosystem at the outset, with resources the league once devoted to driving linear tune-in being redirected. The global reach of the league has also thus far been out of proportion with its domestic TV focus, meaning the Season Pass service could serve as a valuable conduit. As the season starts later this month, for example, memories of Argentina’s stirring World Cup championship win over France still linger on, affording an opportunity for Argentine players in the MLS to potentially connect with fans. The 2026 World Cup will be held in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
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