MLS, Apple TV reach 10-year deal to broadcast games



MLS and Apple TV announced Tuesday a 10-year partnership that will start in 2023 and will result in every one of the league’s games, as well as those in MLS Next Pro and MLS Next games, streamed globally on a new channel without any local blackout restrictions. MLS is the first major sports league to go all in with a digital provider.

Some Atlanta United supporters have complained vociferously about the team’s partnership with Bally Sports because its regional channels weren’t broadcast on Hulu or YouTube TV.

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All of the team’s games now will be available through a subscription service on Apple TV.

“I think it’s a really historic day for the sports business overall, as we announced just a few minutes ago, a first-of-its-kind tenure partnership with one of the most innovative and customer-focused companies in the entire world,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

The Sports Business Journal reported that Apple will pay MLS a reported $250 million a year. Garber declined to confirm that rights total. That total can increase once a certain number of subscribers to the channel have been reached.

Details about the streaming channel, including pricing and how to sign up, will be disclosed in a few months.

In addition to the games, there will be a weekly live show that will televise every goal and save, as well as live and on-demand content. Those who buy season tickets will receive the streaming service for free. Games can be streamed in English, Spanish, French (for the teams based in Canada), and eventually, Portuguese. The streaming quality will be 1080p.

“I’m a huge sports fan,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services. “And for the first time ever as a fan, I’ll be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in a single place. It’s never been done before. We’re going to take all of the things that Apple is really good at – experiences, the style, the approach we take to making great products – to this. And we’re committed to growing the sport of soccer with MLS. We’re going to make it easy for people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite clubs. MLS is already on a tremendous trajectory as the fastest-growing soccer league in the world.”

MLS is still negotiating with traditional networks for the rights to simulcast certain games. A selective number of matches will be broadcast free on Apple TV, Apple TV-plus and the new MLS channel. There will be no local broadcasts.

The MLS live and on-demand content on the Apple TV app will be available to those with internet access and the app, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD; 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.

With the new agreement, weekday games will be played on Wednesday nights and all weekend games will be Saturday nights, barring a scheduling conflict with the team’s venue. The majority of matches will have the play-by-play broadcaster and analyst on-site. There will be pregame, halftime and postgame shows for every match. Every club will be allowed to generate local content that will be streamed. Those watching will have the option to listen to the local radio broadcast while watching games.

“So this expands our opportunity and quite frankly, the real intangible, is our ability to tell stories because, quite frankly, that’s one of the things that’s been missing for us, with our existing media partnerships,” MLS Deputy Commissioner and President Gary Stevenson said.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas