Apple (AAPL) – Get a free report is serious about building an entertainment empire to rival theirs in technology, and Major League Soccer is the next step in its evolution as a company.
Apple first made waves in the sports world when it began exclusively broadcasting Friday night major league baseball games. But that’s just the beginning of Apple’s foray into sports broadcasting.
The company revealed some of the finances behind its next move with MLS on February 16.
The company is now offering football fans access to the MLS Season Pass. Beginning February 1, fans can subscribe to the Season Pass in the Apple TV app for $14.99 per month during the season for a flat rate of $99 per season.
Apple TV+ subscribers get a special price of $12.99 per month and $79 per season.
“There is no more perfect time to introduce the MLS Season Pass after the most dramatic MLS Cup in history is on its heels and MLS is the fastest growing soccer league in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services. “Counting down the days to February 2023, when fans everywhere will be able to enjoy the MLS Season Pass on billions of devices – all without a power outage.”
The upcoming World Cup in Qatar could be a big promotion for the service as football fans worldwide work up an appetite with the tournament, which takes place every four years.
Apple’s sports ecosystem
The 2023 MLS season will be the first in a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal between Apple and the sports league.
The deal is Apple’s largest investment in sports broadcasting, and in addition to subscription revenue, Apple plans to deliver advertising to both paid and free subscribers as an additional revenue stream for the deal, according to a report.
Outside of MLB and MLS, Apple has been heavily involved in negotiations with the NFL over Thursday Night Football rights.
Companion to Silicon Valley giant Amazon (AMZN) – Get a free report eventually won the rights to broadcast the NFL.
But Apple has one more bite left on the NFL apple as the league is currently in negotiations for the rights to its NFL Sunday Ticket package.
Streaming services are in the process of transitioning to a dual-revenue model with advertising dollars. There are now signs that the subscription model may have already peaked.
In this environment, a partnership with the NFL, the city’s biggest game, is invaluable.
The NFL’s digital viewership has doubled over the past three seasons, NFL chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp recently wrote in Sports Illustrated.
The league is reportedly expecting their next ticket deal on Sunday to be streaming-based.
Catch-up to Amazon
Amazon has gotten feet first into sports broadcasting after the NFL announced a 10-year deal that will give Amazon exclusive rights to broadcast Thursday Night Football beginning in the 2023 season. Amazon will reportedly pay $1 billion per season for these rights.
Analysts at JPMorgan maintained their overweight position in Amazon, noting that Thursday Night Football spend accounts for more than 13% of Prime Video’s $7.5 billion annual spend.
“As such, TNF represents a significant investment by Prime Video. But we think this money is money well spent and believe it offers Amazon several benefits,” said analyst Doug Anmuth.
These benefits include the potential to drive new Prime subscribers while deepening the engagement of existing subscribers. The company estimates that Amazon Prime has more than 180 million subscribers, including 75 million in the US
In May, Amazon won the 11-year broadcast rights to the NFL’s Thursday night football package, reportedly for $11 billion. This week, three months later, the company announced it was working with Nielsen to measure audience ratings for the show.