Major League Soccer and Apple may soon be finalizing an agreement to bring the top domestic soccer league to Apple TV+, according to a report from Sam Stejskal, who broke the story on Twitter:
MLS was hoping to package all of its media rights into one massive deal worth $300 million per year during Q1 of 2022; however, it doesn’t seem likely the league is going to reach its goal. According to Stejskal’s sources, ESPN and Univision, who currently carry MLS games, are still negotiating with the league on some type of deal. It hasn’t been confirmed if Fox, who is currently the league’s third broadcast partner, is interested in keeping the rights to MLS. Between ESPN, Univision, and Fox, the league’s expiring media deal is worth $90 million per year.
The connection between Apple and MLS has been picking up steam over the last few months. Apple has reportedly been interested in spending billions on live sports and recently acquired rights to stream live MLB games as part of their Friday Night Baseball package. Now the streamer is looking to score a goal by making their next play after being named as one of the dozen companies interested in acquiring rights to MLS.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal predicted on The Marchand Ourand Sports Media Podcast (21:05) that the MLS-Apple deal will be announced within the next month if it turns out to be accurate, saying the following:
That deal with Apple if it turns out to be accurate. It’s going to come out in like the next 4 weeks or so it’s going to be a good amount of money it’s going to be a pretty good deal for MLS
Since a deal has yet to be finalized, other companies and streaming services are still in play for the media package. Stejskal reported in March that Turner Sports was interested but it was put on pause due to the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger.
Now that the merger has closed, Warner Bros. Discovery may jump back into negotiations with MLS, which could bring the soccer league to HBO Max. The conglomerate recently made a deal to bring U.S. Soccer to HBO and Turner Sports, which will bring over 20 U.S. men’s and women’s national team matches per year to HBO Max. If they end up acquiring the rest of the MLS package then Warner Bros. Discovery would become the prominent home of domestic soccer in the US.
As MLS continues to negotiate deals, if the league isn’t able to sell all of its rights to a single company then it may have to continue its current hat-trick to maximize profits.