MLS Season Pass, Major League Soccer's new broadcast home for the next 10 years, launched on Wednesday morning.
The 2023 MLS season doesn't start until Feb. 25, but fans can in the meantime watch curated and on-demand content of past MLS action and the league's stars.
The success of MLS Season Pass, Apple's $2.5 billion commitment on MLS, will depend on the appetite of soccer fans to pay to watch MLS soccer, not just follow their favorite team but the league as a whole, its big games and its storylines each week.
Every MLS match -- even those carried on the Fox networks -- will be available to fans without blackouts. That includes all MLS regular-season and playoff games, all Leagues Cup games this summer and MLS Next Pro and MLS Next games. MLS Season Pass will be available to fans in more than 100 countries and regions.
But MLS Season Pass will depend also on the ability of fans to grasp and embrace the utility of the Apple TV app.
To watch MLS Season Pass will require fans to download and sign into the Apple TV app, whether that is on their Apple device (IPhone, IPad or Mac), smart TV, streaming device, set-top box or game console, as well as cable where available and on the web.
The Apple TV app allows fans to watch content on the subscription-based Apple+, content (live sports, old movies) on other networks to which they subscribe, set up watch lists and "favorite" teams they follow.
MLS Season Pass is a work in progress and its content and offerings will evolve as MLS and Apple gauge the response of fans. But here are key points to know:
• MLS Season Pass costs $14.99 per month or $99 per season.
• Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up for $12.99 per month or $79 per season.
• Each full-season MLS ticket account will receive a subscription to MLS Season Pass. A unique redemption code will be sent. Up to six family members can share the subscription using their own Apple ID and password via Family Sharing and watch what they want.
• Most games will kick off at 7:30 p.m. local time and be played on Saturdays, creating a five-hour window for continuous MLS action.
• Each game will feature commentary in English and Spanish. All broadcast teams will work on on-site, requiring Apple and MLS to hire 14 teams of play-by-play announcers and match analysts to do the matches in English and another 14 teams to do the games in Spanish.
• French commentary will be available for MLS's three Canadian teams.
• Fans will be able to access the radio broadcast of each game's home team.
• Each game will feature pregame and postgame shows, as well as halftime shows.
• Matchdays will also feature a whip-around show to provide live look-ins and discussion.
• Each team will have a "team room," dedicated page on MLS Season Pass and offer its own content throughout the season.
• What content will be available in front of the MLS Season Pass paywall? All games will be available for free on MLS's opening weekend -- 13 on Saturday, Feb. 25, and one on Sunday, Feb. 26. In addition to the 34 games that Fox Sports (Fox, FS1 and Fox Deportes) will carry, about six games will be available for free each week on MLS Season Pass. That's approximately double the number of games a fan can watch for free than in 2022 when most games were carried by ESPN+, ESPN's paid streaming service.
• How much of the non-live content will be available for free? Most of the on-demand content will be available to everyone. Apple, MLS and its teams are working on a strategy for exclusive content available only to MLS Season Pass subscribers.
• Are there plans for MLS-related series like the popular Drive to Survive on Netflix or Welcome to Wrexham now on Hulu? There's nothing to announce.
• Will fans be able to watch games at bars or restaurants with streaming capabilities? That's been an issue with the new U.S. Soccer deal with HBO Max. There is nothing to share just yet about how Apple and MLS will deal with this issue.
* Who will have the final say on decisions such as marketing, production spending, hiring and firing of talent and the scope of editorial coverage? On each of these topics, the position of Apple and MLS is that their venture is a partnership and they are working in concert to make decisions.
As a longtime season ticket holder in CO, I welcome the new package. I've gone from not being able to watch anything at all (on Altitude which is still fuming with Comcast) to getting every single game for free with my season ticket package. I'm a bit befuddled on the talent selected to do the games, some of which made sense but other selections a bit confounding. Some really fine play-by-play talent left on the sidelines by MLS. Additionally, I'm interested to see what type of local reporting is done on each of the teams. The Colorado Rapids traditionally are on the short end of the stick when it comes to the MLS website, and I'm a bit fearful that it will be the same with the Apple package. Time will tell. Kudos to MLS for taking the plunge by offering every game without blackouts. And here's another great feature offered for the first time: If you don't like the audio with your TV broadcast you'll be able to tune in and listen to the local radio broadcast while watching the telecast. I got my notice to sign up today and did so seamlessly. Each team already has some programming loaded onto the MLS Apple TV area of the app. Good luck to the league and all the announcers, talent and production people for the upcoming season.
The only way the Rapids can come up with the short end of the stick is if the Rapids don't produce content - It'd not on to MLS. They at least hired Marcelo Balboa for commentary
Apparently, you can only share access if you have a phone or computer in the Apple environment.
nope, shared access requires only an Apple ID - anybody can get one, they free & no apple platform is required
Best thing ever for MLS exposure! Now we will see MLS viewership drop off as people refuse to pay to watch on Apple TV. Count me out.
So you're not going to watch any of the game that are shown for free or broadcast on tv? Or are you just refusing ntonpaynthen$13/month? It's basically two Starbucks coffee a month or some other luxury item you buy. MLS doesn't hold value for you, so you'd be unwilling to give up a different splurge for this. Not everyone thinks like you. I'll be in. Just eat out one less time a month, problem solved.
A really bad idea. Viewership is low now and it's free. What do you expect for $15 a month to watch players you've never heard of.
Get a real job maybe and stop complaining? It's not a bad price and you can get a free trial to Apple TV plus which will make the fee go down to $79 if you buy during that window.
Will the viewer experience have any flexibility? Fast forward, rewind, DVR in order to deal with interruptions, conflicting events, or the ability to watch multiple games?
I was also concerned about the ability to DVR matches and re-watch home matches. Apparently, all matches will be archived and available quickly. Based on last season's archived matches full navigation is possible - ff, stop, rewind, start anytime etc. I don't expect we will be able to ff live events into the future....the gambling industry must have quashed that feature
Something I don't think is getting enough attention is that pretty much all games will be played at 7:30pm on Saturdays, if I understand this correctly. I want to watch games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the players I coach are more likley to watch a game in the afternoon than on Saturday evening. I used to pay the $50 for the MLS package, but I won't be paying $99 for this. I'll watch the free games, when they fit my schedule. Am I understanding the schedule correctly?
Will be best $79 ever spent! Once I figure out where to buy. Currently out and about using iPhone
I will opt out of this skunk works as will many. Years of frustration and blackouts - now the new amazing plan - but - we forgot about pubs and bars! Unreal - but telling. MLS Execs and Apple - fail to grasp - this not NFL - this is a global sport - you must compete with other leagues local and global. Do not fool yourself into thinking you are a leader. You are not. You are a raw young and C+ grade quality of play league, successful inspit of yourselves not because of - the rising tide of soccer in USA is floating a lot of boats - UPSL with it's free-the-clubs model has over 400 teams - championship this week, first ever Texas Open Championship underway - my son will play this weekend with the men. USL Championship continues to grow. I will still attend some local MLS games - now and then - no need for season tix as games very lightly attended in this and many other markets - which the league fails to mine for butts in seats - and is present in - only for need to have it to complete their precious TV portfolio - as they fail to grasp the importance of full stadiums in soccer. Wish all the folks well that are embarking on this Apple endeavor. Drinking the koolaid. Keep a copy of Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer on your music device - may come in handy.
It must suck to be you