MLS, Apple partner on new 10-year media rights deal

Buoyed by the conviction that its fan base is younger, more global and more technologically savvy than that of more traditional pro sports leagues, Major League Soccer on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year media rights deal with Apple that’ll be anchored by a single, digital hub for all MLS, Leagues Cup and MLS Next Pro matches.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber emphasized that the commitment isn’t a traditional broadcast arrangement, wherein a league exchanges the rights to its games and content for a negotiated rate. Rather, MLS and Apple have entered a partnership where each is incentivized to grow the business. Garber declined to reveal the economics (MLS reportedly was seeking up to $300 million annually), but he said the league will receive a base fee along with a percentage of subscription sales. Sports Business Journal reported that Apple’s guarantee to MLS will be $250 million per year. MLS and Apple will create a production studio, hire presenters and English-, Spanish- and French-speaking announcers, develop shoulder programming and produce a live whip-around show on Saturday nights.

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