Apple is looking to get more streaming kicks from sports.
The tech giant has struck a 10-year rights pact with Major League Soccer, in a deal that will make the Apple TV app the exclusive place to see every single live MLS match beginning in 2023. The new rights deal will tie Apple to soccer until 2032, and is the second sports deal it has made in recent months, after unveiling a pact in April to show Friday night games from Major League Baseball.
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“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,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, said in a statement. “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.”
Streamers are starting to swipe rights to a number of valuable sports. Amazon is set to launch its exclusive stream of the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” in the fall, and Viacom18, a joint venture between Paramount Global and wealthy industrialist Mukesh Ambani, among others, nabbed streaming rights to Indian Premier League Cricket that had previously been assigned to Walt Disney. Disney continues as the TV partner of the sport.
Disney’s ESPN currently enjoys rights to show out-of-market MLS games on ESPN+, its subscription portal, but that will cease once Apple takes control next year. ESPN did not bid for streaming rights, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“We continue to have a great relationship with MLS and are proud of the role we’ve played in helping grow the league and the sport in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.
Apple said all MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French. Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage for fans to easily follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights right in the News app.
The MLS live and on-demand content on the Apple TV app will be available to anyone with internet access across all devices where the app can be found, including Apple’s own products and TV’s made by 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 tv.apple.com.
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