We're approaching the start of a new era in Major League Soccer broadcasting: the Apple TV era. The tech giant and MLS announced the deal in November, giving Apple TV full access to all MLS games and hours of additional league content.
The deal was a financial windfall for the league; signing a 10-year deal worth $2.5 billion. But what does this new deal mean for the fans and average viewers of the league? With the Feb. 1 release of MLS Season Pass coming soon, let's look at the pros and cons of the system.
It's impossible to ignore that this is an expensive streaming service. The MLS Season Pass costs $14.99 per month for non Apple TV+ subscribers. That's $5 more than ESPN+ cost, and that service included all non-national TV MLS games as well as tons of other sports content.
This harkens back to the old days of MLS Direct Kick and other league offerings like NBA League Pass.
The price will make it harder to attract new fans and keep current fans. According to the league, there will be a handful of games available for free, but a majority of league content will only be available behind a paywall.
Despite the high price, there will be more content than before available to fans of the league. The Athletic's Pablo Maurer reported that clubs will be expected to produce a healthy amount of additional content for Apple in addition to league-wide content coming from the network.
Apple seems to be heavily invested in the success of its partnership with the league. If the company is committed to the product, we could see a bevy of additional content and increased production values compared to the last decade with ESPN and Fox Sports.
From the perspective of fans and consumers, the biggest criticism will always be the price and there's an easy potential fix for this down the line: a team-specific subscription. There will always be sickos who want to watch as many MLS games per week as possible (it's me, I'm the sicko), but a majority of fans have a favorite team they want to watch.
If you're reading this and you're an Orlando City fan, you more than likely want to watch Orlando games. Paying $15 a month for access to the Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City isn't something you need or even want.
If the league created a pass to be able to watch all your team's games and specific content for a cheaper price, that would dramitically increase the accesibility of the league's product. Perhaps giving people a gateway through the club content would even open the door to people who want to get the full membership for a league-wide product.
This season will be an interesting test case for what this next decade of MLS on Apple TV will look like. There will be issues, complaints and things to improve, but hopefully the groundwork will be laid for an ambitious new era for the league.
Follow Christopher Adams on Twitter @Topher_Adams