Major League Soccer and Apple officially unveiled MLS Season Pass Feb. 1. The new streaming partnership created a new home for all MLS content, including club programming and all regular season, postseason and Leagues Cup games.
A bulk of the services value is yet to come with games just under a month away, but after just under a week of using the service, I have a few early thoughts on the platform.
It feels like a proper home
MLS has always been cast to the side. The league had a longstanding partnership with ESPN, but was never a major point of emphasis with the massive sports network. Games were put at weird times to accommodate the network's schedule and supplemental programming was non-existent.
Season Pass feels like a proper, professional home for MLS where the league is the main attraction. There's a whole separate tab on the Apple TV app just for MLS. Speaking as a fan of the league for close to a decade now, this is an unprecedented feeling.
I don't even really care about whether this new service will grow the league or anything, it's just gratifying as a longtime fan for the league to feel like it's getting the space and respect I've wanted for a long time.
Really fun opening day content
The content already on the app isn't groundbreaking or necessarily must-see TV for non-diehards, but I've had a lot of fun diving into the material. The app right now has a few different content selections.
There's league produced stuff that's mostly from a few years ago like The Movement and Playoff Moments specials. While a few years old, that content is some of the best MLS related stuff produced to date.
Each club has produced a team profile video, short player profile videos and a brief video about some kind of team ritual.
The club profiles are by far the most substantive and interesting pieces on the service right now. Some teams went out of their way to produce fantastic mini-documentaries. Orlando's club profile was a fantastic overview of the club's history, major moments and the future. As a sappy, long-time fan, it was exactly what I was looking for.
I've seen most (but not all, yet) of the club profiles, and the other ones I would reccomend are Colorado, Dallas and the New York Red Bulls.
As far as the player profiles are concerned, they're decent but unspectacular. It can be fun to get a glimpse into the personality of dozens of notable names across the league, but they're just filler videos and not as in-depth as I personally would've liked.
There's also ample highlights and full match replays. You can rewatch every MLS Cup Final, several memorable games in league history and every game from last season. As someone who loves to get hyped for opening day, that's exactly what I'm looking for.
We'll see how good it gets
For a diehard, self-proclaimed MLS Sicko, the service as is makes me extremely happy. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a tad underwhelming from the jump. The content available right now is no different than the league and club produced content we've seen over the last half decade on YouTube and club websites.
The hope is that Apple and the MLS content producers will be able to make some really engaging nonfiction content. My hope is we see more in-depth, well produced long form documentary content. In a perfect world, that would be really honest stories like Netflix's Sunderland 'Til I Die as opposed to Amazon's All of Nothing, but even that would be an awesome step in the right direction.
The game broadcasts themselves are also the main driver of whether MLS Season Pass is worth the time of casual audiences. If Apple pulls all the stops to produce a genuinely world class broadcast with the best cameras and strong overall production value, then Season Pass will be awesome.
Hopefully that also includes the development of pre and postgame shows, studio shows and the production of the league's whip-around show on game days. In short, there's a lot still to be determined and to be excited about when it comes to MLS Season Pass.