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Apple TV+’s MLS Plans Beginning to Take Shape; Up to 40% of Games Will Reportedly Be Free

David Satin

This summer, Apple signed a landmark deal with Major League Soccer to make Apple TV the exclusive home of MLS matches for the next 10 years. Nearly five months after the deal became official, a few details have begun to trickle out about what the deal will look like for users.

When the plan was originally announced, Apple confirmed that the vast majority of games would be on a standalone subscription package, while some would be available to Apple TV+ subscribers, and “a limited number of matches” would be available via the Apple TV app for free. This soccer-specific subscription will mark the first time Apple will offer an add-on package or additional tier to Apple TV. Currently, Apple TV+ has just one subscription option for $6.99 per month. However, according to reporting from The Athletic, as many as 40% of the matches being offered will actually be free to users of the Apple TV app.

Another detail that customers will want to keep in mind as they consider whether or not to sign up for the MLS package is that it will definitely be accompanied by ads. Apple has been pounding the pavement with ad agencies recently to make an aggressive expansion in their ad revenues, which some took as a sign that the company might be trying to launch an ad-supported tier of Apple TV+.

Instead, those meetings have reportedly been mostly related to Apple’s deal with MLS, according to Bloomberg. Intriguingly, the report also suggests that Apple is seeking an expansion of advertising for paid Apple TV+ subscribers, but it does not elaborate on what form that may take. It could mean that more ads appear on the app itself, or it could mean that Apple will be putting ads alongside its streaming shows. This past baseball season, the streamer did include commercials in its Friday Night games of the week.

There are also more details about the MLS-Apple deal available from a programming standpoint. Most games will air on either Wednesday or Saturday nights, and some will be simulcast on linear networks such as ESPN and FOX. MLS is still working on agreements with broadcast companies to determine who will carry any such games, but there will not be any games available exclusively on traditional TV.

One thing that customers will be happy to leave behind as a result of the new deal is blackouts. No MLS games will be blacked out on Apple TV+, with the exception of Leagues Cup matches for fans located in Mexico.

If Apple and MLS can get the remaining issues ironed out with relative ease, the marketplace will surely take notice. Apple is still locked in negotiations with the NFL to become the next home of that league’s NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market games package. Finalizing the details of the streaming plan for Major League Soccer would provide a big confidence boost that Apple can offer such a big-time sports package while balancing the needs of its customers and the league it is partnered with.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is a subscription video streaming service for $6.99 a month that includes high-quality originals shows and movies including Best Picture winner “CODA,” popular sitcom “Ted Lasso,” and dramas like “The Morning Show” and “For All Mankind.” Apple TV+ is also home to MLB baseball games on Friday nights and MLS Season Pass.

They have titles coming from Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Jennifer Garner, and Octavia Spencer.

If you purchase an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, you can get a free year of Apple TV+.

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