Soccer – “A young and international audience”: With MLS, Apple breaks the bank

Often summed up as a championship for European players in pre-retirement, MLS is nothing to be ashamed of. After massively developing its training system over the past ten years — from which many young talents have been born — the North American League signed a Juicy TV contract with Apple on June 15. The Apple multinational will spend $2.5 billion (2.3 billion euros) over the next ten years to broadcast all matches on the Apple TV streaming platform.

This is an increase of about 400% of the amount of existing rights, as MLS has received just under $70 million (euro 66 million) per year since 2015 on television traditional American, along with ESPN and Fox. On the audience side, MLS averaged 276,000 spectators per game in 2021, a 15.5% increase from the previous year.

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Interesting figures but which remain low compared to other American leagues such as the NBA (1.4 million viewers) or the all-powerful NFL (17.1 million). “You might think that Apple paid more for MLS rights this year, but you’d probably say they actually paid them less ten years from now.”Brad Edgett, consultant in marketing and media strategy in the United States. “They are betting that MLS will go up. The numbers are proving them so far and the 2026 World Cup in North America should be of great help.”

A new step towards the online migration of games

The new partnership with Apple is a major departure for MLS, which has so far been shown on traditional television. But unlike other American sports leagues and European football, whose audiences continue to age, MLS attracts a young and ethnically diverse audience. “Soccer is a recent sport in the United States. It is widely practiced and watched by young people who are leaving TV to watch content on the Internet”, Brad summarizes Edgett.

MLS. in Blaise Matuidi (Inter Miami)

credit: Getty Images

“The deal between MLS and Apple is another step towards the migration of online sports. It is a global trend. The NBA is available on the Hulu streaming service, Formula 1 has premiered its series on Netflix, the French football championship now on Amazon But… all are trying to reach out to the younger generation”The latter continues.

Apple, a Strong Partner

After the failure of MediaPro in 2020, Ligue 1 relied on Amazon in June 2021 by spending 80% of its matches online on the Prime Video streaming service, “League 1 matches are only available to our users in mainland France and the French regions”, although Amazon France specifies. MLS and Apple have opted for another option as matches from the US Championship will be available worldwide from next year. Both partners intend to invest in content in three languages: English, Spanish and French.

“Their strategy is truly international, and this deal is particularly innovative because after more than 2.5 billion in ten years, MLS will receive a commission on the number of subscriptions sold”, Description Brad Edgette. “And that won’t stop them from continuing to negotiate with traditional TV broadcasters in the United States and elsewhere in the world.”

Thierry Henry smiles broadly after Impact Montreal’s inaugural win over New England in MLS

credit: Eurosport

Apple already gained a foothold in American sports in March, landing the broadcast of two MLB matches (Major League Baseball) per week, presented on Apple TV every Friday evening, and in eight countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan. was accessible. For the United States and Canada. MLS, the second sports acquisition by the apple giant, does not intend to stop there.

“We are talking about a company that made 378 billion dollars (361 billion euros) in 2020. 250 million per year for MLS (239 million euros) means almost nothing to them”, Before adding, Edgegate believes: “Apple will continue to move toward sports broadcasting and they are a cutting-edge technology company, making them the best possible partner for the future.”

very long term contract

MLS and Apple have committed for the next ten years, a period that is particularly challenging in France where broadcasters only commit for three to five years. “This is a typical period in American sports. Here, broadcasters and sports leagues normally agree on eight to ten years. This allows both sides to be able to project themselves financially over the long term, in order to be able to cope with the unknown. more easily – such as a global pandemic for example – and for broadcasters to be able to better negotiate their advertising contracts”Description Edge.

A way of working that makes impossible, according to him, a MediaPro scenario in the United States, “I don’t remember a broadcaster that ever went bankrupt or had to exit. MLS is in good hands with Apple. Both sides will work hand in hand to increase the visibility of the league.”

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

Tv ninja. Lifelong analyst. Award-winning music evangelist. Professional beer buff. Incurable zombie specialist.

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