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Apple continues push into live sports with Major League Soccer deal


Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) celebrates his goal scored against Inter Miami CF with midfielder Latif Blessing (7) and forward Brian Rodriguez (17) throughout the first half at Banc Of California Stadium, March 1, 2020.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

Apple on Tuesday announced a 10-year take care of Major League Soccer to broadcast matches on its streaming service, the newest sign of the iPhone maker’s increased investment in exclusive content for Apple TV+.

The deal will make Apple’s app the one service where fans can watch all MLS matches without blackouts, Apple said on Tuesday. While some select matches shall be available to Apple TV+ subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month, fans may have to purchase a separate MLS subscription to look at all of the matches. The fee of that service, which shall be available globally, and the timing of its release weren’t disclosed.

Since launching Apple TV+ in 2019 and jumping into the heated streaming wars, Apple has been constructing a portfolio of original shows and films. It is also getting more aggressive with sports. This season, the corporate began broadcasting Major League Baseball games on Friday nights.

Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the take care of Apple will help the league appeal to younger consumers.

“That is what they’ve asked for,” Garber said. “And we will deliver them every match anywhere, anytime, anywhere all over the world with none restrictions.”

Apple has taken a quality-over-quantity approach streaming. Its service doesn’t have an intensive back catalog that may compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+, and the corporate hasn’t announced viewership stats or a subscriber total.

But Apple has scored several critical hits, including “Ted Lasso,” a comedy a few goofy American soccer coach in England who was previously a university football coach within the U.S.

“We will take all the things that Apple is de facto good at — experiences, style, the approach we take to creating great products — to this,” said Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice chairman of services, at Tuesday’s event.

Live sports are so popular that streaming services are bidding up the value for content that is traditionally been the domain of pay TV. For instance, Amazon broadcasts some NFL games on Prime Video in a package value $1 billion per 12 months.

Gary Stevenson, deputy commissioner of MLS, said the the league is benefiting from the “biggest transition in the best way sports media could be distributed because the advent of cable television,” referring to the rise of cord-cutting and proliferation of streaming services.

— CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report.

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