Saturday, December 17, 2022

MLS on TV Updates

1. MLS on Apple
Last month Apple announced the price structure for its MLS offering. Retail cost will be $15 per month or $99 a year. Fans with Apple TV+ (ATV+) already can get it for $13/$79. Apple will be giving the person paying for MLS season tickets the application for free.

For whatever reason, they are not allowing customers to purchase the option until Feb. 1, 2023.

The MLS Season Pass application will exist within the Apple TV as a stand-alone service (meaning; an app within the app). Apple TV+ ($7 per month) will show a couple MLS games a week outside of the MLS app.

Apple and MLS will be producing all the matches themselves.

2. ESPN Out, FOX Sticks Around
With Apple more or less buying everything MLS offers on a screen, traditional linear TV companies will not be able to produce games when acquiring rights. More or less this means that they would just be airing the Apple broadcast feed. Since Apple is so large, pretty much every potential media partner is a competitor making it a difficult sell.

After being with MLS since day one 27 years ago, Disney (ABC/ESPN) is out as an MLS TV partner. Going back to the early 90s, you will remember that jumping into MLS was one of Disney's first big buys after taking over ABC. After all these years it is surprising MLS would not do everything possible to keep ESPN on board. ESPN likely knows more about MLS than MLS.

FOX decides to stick around and carry a normal schedule of MLS games. They only signed on for four years, taking them to the 2026 World Cup (to which they own rights). This means they will air around 15 games on big FOX and another dozen or so on FS1/FS2.

No financial details of the FOX deal were given. This likely means FOX is doing this at cost (Free).

3. Leagues Cup
Univision opted to not carry regular season MLS games but will show a "select" amount of Leagues Cup events along with FOX's FS1/2. Univision will likely stick with Club America for as many games as they have in the month-long event.

The Leagues Cup is now a month-long tournament and MLS will suspend their regular season while it is going on.

4. No NFL on Apple
I mention this because the NFL and MLS are very intertwined. MLS was more or less born from the NFL in 1995 and reborn with even stronger ties in 2002. Apple's $2.5b investment into MLS could have been seen as a sort of down payment to carry the NFL's own "Direct Kick" package now that it is up for bid. 

It was announced last night that both parties are stepping away from the negotiating table.

What does this mean? Speculation: I think Apple will probably adjust its MLS product within the next 12 months or so. Either knocking down the price or just offering it as part of the ATV+ sub fee.

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