Apple Teams With MLS to Exclusively Stream Soccer Starting in 2023

Apple is slowly ramping up its roster of sports.

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Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Eli Blumenthal
Ian Sherr
3 min read
Apple logo on an iPhone

Apple earlier this year struck a deal with Major League Baseball to stream Friday night games. Starting next year, fans of Major League Soccer will be able to stream that league's games as well. The iPhone maker on Tuesday announced a 10-year agreement with MLS for a new streaming service that will exist exclusively through its Apple TV app or website. 

Under the terms of the deal, rumored to be worth at least $250 million, according to Sports Business Journal sources, Apple gains streaming rights for "all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT" matches. Apple added that the new service will allow for fans to watch their local team in their home market "without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay TV bundle." The games will be available in 1080p HD.

"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. He touted that Apple's offering will have "no fragmentation, no frustration -- just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS."

Apple's deal with MLS is the latest in what appears to be a growing effort from the tech giant to become a destination for sports. The company has already received praise for its TV shows like Ted Lasso and Oscar-winning movie CODA since launching its $5-a-month Apple TV Plus service in 2019

Apple's move into sports brings new questions though. It wasn't immediately clear how much Apple will charge for the new MLS streaming service, for example. The company says that "a limited number of matches" will be available for free, while those who pay for its Apple TV Plus service will be able to catch a "broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches" as part of that regular subscription. Hardcore fans will have an option to pay for an additional all-in service.

MLS games have previously streamed on ESPN Plus, though that was only for out-of-market games. Local games required you to watch on a regional sports network, which usually meant the need for a cable TV, satellite or pricey streaming TV package. 

Similar to its MLB deal, Apple will make the games available in the Apple TV app found on a number of devices and platforms including iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TV boxes, game consoles and smart TV platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Google TV and Roku. 

While Apple still doesn't have an Android app for phones or tablets, fans with those devices will be able stream games on tv.apple.com. 

In addition to streaming live games, Apple will also air a "weekly live match whip-around show" for fans looking to keep up with all the action. 

In signing up MLS, Apple continues to build out its roster of sports streaming rights. Beyond the MLB deal, which has Apple TV as the exclusive home for two Friday night baseball games each week, the company has been heavily rumored to be the landing spot for NFL Sunday Ticket after an exclusive with DirecTV expires after the upcoming 2022 NFL season.