Major League Soccer has awarded exclusive worldwide broadcast rights for its games to Apple under a 10-year deal, solidifying the tech giant’s foray into live sports.
The package announced on Tuesday is the second major sports league to enter into a media rights deal with the Cupertino-based company. Apple has landed an exclusive package of Friday night Major League Baseball competitions that began this season on its Apple TV streaming platform.
The deal, the terms of which have not been disclosed but is believed to be in the range of $2.5 billion across the entire contract, is also another significant migration of live sports from television to a platform. streaming. Amazon is offering the NFL Thursday Night Football package starting in the upcoming season and exclusive local rights to 20 New York Yankees games.
Football has been seen as a prime target for streaming services. The sport does not have the same broad appeal in the United States as other major professional leagues, but it does have a younger passionate fanbase than those of other events.
For its MLS deal, Apple is creating a new subscription service to showcase matches and related content, such as highlights, replays and turnovers for live action across the league.
“For the first time in sports history, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, said in a statement. “It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, football fans and anyone who loves the sport. No fragmentation, no frustration – just the flexibility to sign up with a convenient service that gives you everything what MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch.”
The deal with Apple will end Major League Soccer’s relationship with regional sports television networks across the country, which will no longer have local rights to the games.
The impact on the amount of MLS that will be available on national television networks is expected to be significant. Agreements with the league’s current partners – Walt Disney Co’s ESPN, Fox Sports and Fox Corp’s Univision. – are in effect at the end of this season. They are expected to have a limited number of games in the next contract if they renew it.
The MLS streaming service will be available through the Apple TV app at no additional cost to those who already subscribe to Apple TV+. Pricing for new subscribers will be announced in the coming months, the company said.
ESPN pulled out of the package that went to Apple and will lose the rights to games shown on ESPN+, its streaming service.
“We continue to have a great relationship with MLS and are proud of the role we’ve played in helping to grow the league and the sport in the United States,” an ESPN representative said in a statement, noting that the company will still have more than 2,500 football matches per year on its platforms.
Major League Soccer was founded in 1994 and currently has 29 teams across the United States and Canada, including two in Los Angeles, the Galaxy and the Los Angeles Football Club.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.