Apple scores deal for Major League Soccer streaming rights worth $2.5bn

Apple and Major League Soccer have agreed on a $2.5 billion 10-year broadcast rights package, a major investment by the tech giant in live sports that streams North American soccer league games, according to people familiar with the matter service will bring .

From next year all live matches will be broadcast on a dedicated MLS streaming service available on the Apple TV app. The price of the consumer subscription was not immediately available.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber declined to comment on the dollar value of the agreement. He said it was structured as a “minimum guarantee” to form one with Apple streaming servicewith the potential for additional revenue sharing and the sale of some traditional television rights.

By moving the league’s live broadcasts to streaming, MLS will make that possible increase its attractiveness Overseas as opposed to “being the North American version of the global game,” Garber said.

The deal between Apple and MLS is the second live sports rights deal for the tech giant and its first comprehensive single-league rights package. Earlier this year, it struck an agreement with Major League Baseball to broadcast Friday night games, joining its Silicon Valley peers Amazon to take over traditional broadcasters for the rights to live sports.

“Sports is clearly the next battleground for living room ownership among big tech companies,” said Paolo Pescatore, technology and media analyst at PP Foresight. “This is a statement of intent from Apple. Despite being late to the party, it must now be viewed as a serious sports rights player in key markets for its products.”

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, said centralizing all MLS games on its platform would remove friction for fans, who typically have to hop between different networks or platforms to watch them. Each of the major North American professional leagues, including MLS, split their broadcasting rights among a variety of networks, a process that helps owners get the highest price but creates confusion among fans and occasionally leads to television blackouts.

“No fragmentation, no frustration – just the flexibility to sign up for a convenient service that gives you everything MLS offers,” he said.

The deal between Apple and MLS follows another blockbuster package of media rights for the Indian Premier League that was distributed this week broadcast and streaming Privileges to Disney and Viacom18 for nearly $6 billion.

The IPL and MLS media deals amount to mixed judgment for incumbent Disney, which holds streaming rights to both leagues under its current terms.

Figures released by ESPN in 2021 showed that viewership for MLS games on ABC and ESPN increased 39 percent from 2019, the last season before the pandemic, to an average of 384,000 viewers.

A person familiar with the matter described negotiations for the next round of MLS rights as “a competitive process,” but ESPN, Disney’s sports platform, feels comfortable with its other football offerings, including the German Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga and England’s FA Cup, arguably.

A spokesman for ESPN said: “We continue to have a great relationship with MLS and are proud of the role we have played in the growth of the league and the sport in the United States.”

Apple scores deal for Major League Soccer streaming rights worth $2.5bn Source link Apple scores deal for Major League Soccer streaming rights worth $2.5bn

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