Major League Soccer (MLS) has become the first major sports franchise to strike a 100% streaming-exclusive deal.
The decade-long agreement, with Apple, starting in 2023, covers every live match, with no local broadcast blackouts.
The agreement marks a milestone for streaming media and a breakthrough for Apple, which has recently restructured the management of its services business to support an intensified focus on streaming and advertising.
Soccer fans around the world who subscribe to a new streaming service exclusively available through the Apple+ app will have access to all MLS, Leagues Cup and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches, as well as a weekly live match whip-around show, game replays, highlights, analysis and other original programming. (Season ticket subscriptions include access to the streaming service.)
In addition, Apple+ subscribers will have access, at no additional cost, to a “broad selection” of MLS and Leagues Cup matches.
Rather than being rights-based, the deal calls for Apple to meet a minimum guarantee against revenues generated by combined subscriptions sold by both parties, according to Sports Business Journal. That guarantee is $250 million per year, sources told Associated Press.
“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, senior vice president of Apple Services, said in announcing the deal. “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.”
“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” added MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Given Apple’s ability to create a best-in-class user experience and to reach fans everywhere, it’ll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or casual viewer.”
Apple TV+ signed a deal with Major League Baseball in March for exclusive Friday night game streaming rights, and its weekly streaming of a doubleheader kicked off earlier in April. The tech giant has been negotiating to secure NFL streaming rights, including the lucrative “Sunday Ticket” franchise, and is considered by many to be the likely victor in that arena, as well.
At launch, 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 follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights in the News app.
More specifics, including when fans can sign up for the new MLS streamer, subscription pricing and programming information, will be released “in coming months,” Apple said.
Major League Soccer is the fastest-growing soccer league in the world, more than doubling in size to 29 clubs over the last 15 years. Its 2026 FIFA World Cup matches will be hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.