Apple Park in Cupertino, California — Apple’s headquarters — is a massive four-story ring on hundreds of acres about an hour from downtown San Francisco. It looks like something straight out of a science fiction novel, as if a spaceship had descended from the sky and was permanently moored to land on the West Coast of the United States.
The design of this place is futuristic, simple and elegant, not exactly like Apple’s products. Many of them, especially his iPhone, have become an integral part of American life and have an almost cult following among users. For many of those consumers, the idea of switching to another brand feels incomprehensible.
As the company’s marketing suggests, Apple users are discerning, mobile and young. That very same consumer is Major League Soccer’s dream customer. Today, when subscriptions for MLS’ Season Pass his package launch on Apple TV, we’ll start to see how much those consumers will intersect — and how many new consumers will be drawn into the spectacle. .
As of today, all MLS games (regular season, postseason, League’s Cup, etc.) will be streamed on Apple TV as part of a landmark 10-year media rights deal. 1 billion over the next ten years.
MLS still wants relevance, major league, was eager to partner with Apple. Despite its size, the company has the same kind of hip cachet as many of the league’s newest markets.City Like Nashville or Austin. As MLS continues to grow, it is constantly changing in search of influence and visibility. Make no mistake, the deal with Apple certainly fits the mold.
Its growth may also depend in part on fans’ willingness to pay. The MLS Season Pass is $14.99 per month or $99 per season during the season, and Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up for a special price of $12.99 per month and $79 per season. however, Quite a few games are available in front of the paywall and are free on Apple TV. This includes the entire first weekend of the season and his six games a week. They will be announced later on a rolling basis.
Annual subscriptions are included in the package for MLS Club season ticket holders. Apple expects 300,000 to 400,000 subscribers to fall into this bucket.
The league and Apple have been busy spreading rumors over the past two months, hosting media at two events in San Jose and Cupertino earlier this year. On January 10, MLS Commissioner Don He Garber helped introduce the on-air talent the league had chosen to broadcast the game. The competition for these spots was so fierce that their unveiling felt like the end of an episode of Survivor, with the chosen few trotting in celebration.
The next day, at Apple headquarters, Garber joined Apple CEO Tim Cook for a more elaborate rollout. Both events felt about how you would expect them to be — filled with the type of empty PR speeches most people roll out at such gatherings. Maybe, but sometimes things felt like a blessing. Apple has expressed its excitement about the MLS product. MLS showered its new broadcast partners with praise.
there is no doubt still uncertain Surrounding the deal. However, over the past few weeks, MLS and Apple have been focused on letting as many people as possible know about the official season release of his pass.
The Jan. 11 event was attended not only by Cook and Gerber, but also by MLS players such as LAFC’s Kellin Acosta and Toronto FC’s Marc Anthony Kaye. Standing alongside them was Brendan Hunt, the American football figure who probably overwhelmed both of them. Brendan Hunt plays Coach Beard on Apple TV’s Ted Russo. Surrounded by a 22-foot glass wall, Hunt served as a comic foil during Cook’s introduction.
Hunt noted the growing number of viewers for the sport after the frenzied World Cup final in which Argentina beat France. “Will they (new fans) stay? Will they catch the buzz? All those kids were treated to possibly the greatest game ever.”
Then the Los Angeles FC season ticket holder slyly added, “…according to some people.”
“According to others, it was the second best 3-3, overtime penalty shootout of the second half of 2022.”
Behind him, dozens of MLS players laughed quietly. Hunt then described Cook, 62, as “the guy who had all the tools to become the best goalkeeper in Auburn history if ‘Ted Lasso’ had come out a little earlier.” and really screwed it up.
Cook kept things low-key, speaking for 61 seconds to welcome MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the assembled players.
“We are part of the family together now,” Cook said, to another round of applause.
The hard part here is meeting expectations.
The MLS Season Pass rolls out today with a soft opening of sorts. Before live games begin in the weeks to come, the app will offer pre-made content including 2022 season review shows, player profiles, highlight packages and clips highlighting the culture and history of each MLS club. Some clubs in the league had heartburn when they were tasked with producing all this.
The Season Pass provides dedicated pages for all MLS clubs. According to Apple, this will allow users to personalize their experience. For example, his favorite club matches are prioritized in his Apple TV watchlist, and he receives notifications on all his Apple devices whenever a match involving the club is about to start. Fans can also watch replays of every game going back to 2019.
By the end of this month When the 2023 season begins, match windows will include a 30-minute national pre-match show, a match-specific primer at each stadium, a halftime show and a national post-match show. Given the number of time zones we cover, we typically cover game night from 7pm to 1am ET.
In all cases, both the English and Spanish MLS Season Pass Crews will broadcast onsite, but not remotely. Earlier this week, the league pledged to do this in 2023, according to sources familiar with the deal with Apple.
“We’re going through something that no one has gone through unless you started networking,” Garber said at the Apple Park event.
Earlier this week, Apple announced its full broadcast and in-studio teams. It’s a mix of talent that fuses some of the league’s old voices with some new faces. It did not choose to assign broadcast duties for the games, sources said on Monday.
Among these top names is former ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman. The former MLS and US Men’s National Team striker remains one of the most recognizable faces and voices in the American game. At an event hosted by Apple and his MLS in New York on Tuesday morning, Twellman reflected on his broadcasting deal and gave his early impressions of Apple as a partner.
“Every year, MLS feels like they’re trying to do the best they can, fighting for scrap, fighting for mention here, whatever it is.” Well, Apple opened the book wide and said, “How can we make this better?” And right away, they saw it and said, “Can you fix the schedule?” That fixed it. The game is played under lights and the games are played simultaneously. That continuity is very important for growth. And honestly, neither you nor I can answer (the question of how big it is). The league didn’t have that.”
that’s right, A good number of games are scheduled for Saturday, with some on Sunday and Wednesday. Nearly all games kick off at 7:30 p.m. local time, with pre-match coverage beginning half an hour before that. Importantly, The deal also included no power outages or international restrictions, so anyone in the world could freely subscribe and watch.
“It’s a big deal,” Kay said. “In fact, I had no idea how difficult it was for a Canadian to watch her MLS games. My mother would always tell me, ‘Oh! I can’t get your game!’
“I had no idea that a partnership like this would really reduce the stress for so many fans, family, friends and players who watch MLS all the time. I’m glad to know you are.”
Acosta expressed a similar opinion, stating that having all games televised and easy to find should increase the profile of MLS.
“Having a partnership with Apple is a step in the right direction,” said Acosta. “My favorite part is having the sport clean in one place. I think this is huge for American leagues and sports.”
The MLS Season Pass app also includes the so-called Whiparound Show “NFL Red Zone” CBS Sports “Golazo Show” Allows fans to keep up with multiple games at once.shows show A statement said there will be live look-ins from all matches, “including all goals, penalty kicks and big saves.” A wrap-up show ends each night.
There is also room for future additions.
“I think we need a full studio type show that’s highlight-driven, analytics-driven. It’s the kind of thing you see in other league-related networks that have all the resources and have multiple voices. I think we need it. Please be there,” Twellman said on Tuesday.
It’s been a busy, hectic time since the deal was announced last summer. Curious Industry Expert – And yes, perhaps even a little critical – Apple and MLS can really overcome the major technical hurdles to deliver the sophisticated broadcasts they envision by the first slate of games on February 25th. about whether
Is this fledgling production effort ready for the grand undertaking of broadcasting every match in English and Spanish? Matches with Canadian teams, commentary in French)? Will fans really watch the game behind a paywall? Do you have enough first-class production trucks and technical staff to handle the complex tasks behind quality products? yesPresumed to be a seasoned industry expert athletic Not long ago, the league might have spent between $80 million and $100 million on production in 2023 alone.
Twellman, who spent 11 years at ESPN/ABC, said his credibility came from the enormous resources and ferocious planning Apple put into broadcasting from the beginning.
“I’ll give you a really simple one. We asked for a certain number of cameras to cover the game and[Apple]said, ‘Of course,'” Twellman said. I don’t think people realize how different it is, did you say, “Hey, I want X cameras,” and there was no counterargument?
“For a long time we’ve been fighting over these little things. I’ve been in the soapbox for a long time. MLS literally depends on two hours on national television.”
athleticPablo Maurer and Sam Steiskar from contributed to this story
(Photo credit: MLS)