In an unprecedented move, US tech giant Apple has come to an agreement with the United States Soccer Federation that will see it hold the broadcasting rights of the Major League Soccer (MLS) and League’s Cup competitions for the next decade.
The deal is quite surprising, both from a financial standpoint and in regards to the two concerning parties, as soccer is not really considered a major contender within the US sports industry, usually playing second-fiddle to other, more popular contesters in its field, such as the NBA, the NFL or even the MLB.
Apple have provided the MLS and the US Soccer Federation with a huge amount, considering they were previously only making about $1.3 billion per season from Fox, ESPN and Univision -the current broadcasters- which they had to split.
Apple will be developing an independent app for viewers who want to tune in to MLS matches, which will be integrated into Apple TV. Users will not need to subscribe to Apple TV to view the games, although they will need a separate subscription to the MLS-specific app. Furthermore, the deal is not exclusive, with sources stating that the tournament holders will also be selling out rights for one game per round to their previous partners, such as Univision and ESPN. Those games may also be free-to-view via Apple TV.
The MLS have also pointed out that they will be providing the production costs for all games which will be broadcast via Apple TV, although they will only have one set of commentators for each game. Up until now, it was the club’s responsibility to have a commentary team for all their home games.
Apple will also be hosting pregame, post-game and half-time shows, along with other programs that will be shown during the off-season.
Along with this new deal, MLS also announced that the competition will be held on a different format, with rounds now being played on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
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