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HBO Max provides preview of what MLS coverage may look like

HBO Max MLS preview

When you hear the name HBO Max, you may think of several things. First and foremost, a streaming service. Second, the place to stream The Batman movie and Game of Thrones. Third, dare we say, sports? Not yet, but HBO Max subscribers in Latin America have already started watching sports on the service in that region. And those sports include soccer.

As World Soccer Talk reported, HBO Max wants to acquire rights to MLS. In fact, we reported two years ago before HBO Max launched that its sister company Turner Sports’ interest in MLS was high. Since then, the likes of Turner Sports, HBO Max and Warner Media were acquired by the mega merger between Discovery and Warner Bros. Launched just last month, the new company is Warner Bros Discovery.

Merging HBO Max may cause concerns

Currently, reports are that Warner Bros Discovery will merge Discovery+ with HBO Max, thus creating one mega app. With the MLS media rights deal scheduled to begin in 2023, it’s quite possible the new mega app won’t be ready in time. Consequently, HBO Max could be the stop gap measure for MLS and Warner Bros Discovery until the new app launches.

However, a Warner Bros Discovery app that combines Discovery+ and HBO Max will likely cost MLS fans more. HBO Max is currently $9.99 per month. Discovery+ is $4.99 per month. If the apps combine for a price point of $14.98, will MLS fans subscribe?

Regardless, we know Warner Bros Discovery want the media rights to MLS. Whether it will or not, we may find out in the coming weeks.

The soccer experience on HBO Max

In the meantime, in Latin America, HBO Max offers the UEFA Champions League to subscribers. Specifically, the coverage is available in Mexico.

Screengrab from HBO Max MLS preview

Photo credit: The Streamable

Subscribers in Mexico have access to all of the UEFA Champions League games. Integrating soccer into the app along with movie and TV shows is seamless. For instance, HBO Max’s navigation works very similarly to how it does in the United States to access entertainment shows.

Overall, HBO Max in Mexico gives soccer fans enough of a taste to see what soccer on the streaming service will look like. If Warner Bros Discovery does acquire a portion of the MLS rights, the end result may end up looking totally different.

At the same time as Warner Bros Discovery is looking to acquire MLS TV rights, the WB Discovery merged company is teaming up with BT Sport to battle Sky Sports in the UK. And who is Sky Sports owned by? None other than Comcast. It’s another battle between media giants over sports rights.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Roberto

    May 16, 2022 at 10:25 am

    The MLS update is out of date!

  2. El Jefe

    May 12, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    FOX (and to a lesser extent ESPN/ABC) has been incredibly generous to MLS. Putting numerous games in Saturday night prime time or after huge NFL turkey day games. If MLS can’t gain ratings and or casual/ new fans from those sorts of opportunities it looks pretty bleak. If MLS goes exclusively to some off the wall non sports streaming service like HBO or Apple plus then the visibility of the league is going to be below the National Indoor Lacrosse League. And, I cant’t say thats a good thing.

    • Edwin

      May 13, 2022 at 10:15 am

      What a doom and gloom take especially from a otherwise positive article. Too much hyperbole it’s gonna be ok really. MLS should be ok on ESPN/Turner/Univision Apple TV+ and HBO Max. They still have the ABC games ad they’ll still have ESPN.

      I’m guessing you didn’t read the article it clearly says a piece of rights not AlL rights.

  3. Noel

    May 12, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    I already have Discovery and ESPN+ , if MLS goes HBO I will drop sling or ESPN+ . I support MLS before any other leagues. I can see EPL on NBC and Telemundo for free. Don’t really have time for more than two leagues and national team games.

  4. John Ketcham

    May 12, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    It seems to me all the speculation about streamers with no or limited experience in sports taking a flyer on a money losing proposition is interesting but a bit premature. Don’t you think ESPN+ will take the deal because the tonnage is worth the fact that this package will likely be a loss leader.

  5. jason

    May 12, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Bummed about US Open Cup 4th round. No lower division teams beating MLS side in any match.

  6. Eddy

    May 12, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Chris do you think its possible that with the upcoming Turner/MLS deal and with Warner getting BT Sports through the merger do you think this sets the stage for BT to acquire MLS rights in the UK and in other European countries. Seems like a possible long play. MLS has established a dedicated niche following in the UK over the last 5-7 yrs sort of like the Bundesliga has in this country.

    Thanks for the report

    • Eddy

      May 12, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      To add it would be a bit of a issue in the UK if that is the case if BT gets the MLS rights from Sky Sports. Correct me if I’m wrong but Sky is the ESPN to BT here and BT is more of a FS1 in the UK IIRC.

  7. jason

    May 12, 2022 at 11:58 am

    I liked it when MLS Live was a stand alone service. Stinks that has gone away. I thought streaming was supposed to promote independence. Now we are ending up back in bundles in such. Granted it is not like Cable TV, but I guess its a big rubber band. Expands and comes back together

  8. Buckles

    May 12, 2022 at 11:02 am

    MLS is really going to hurt themselves ratings wise if they don’t get a deal with a network that has a linear presence. Hbo max is very expensive and people aren’t going to pay $15 a month for MLS.

  9. Yespage

    May 12, 2022 at 9:48 am

    People went away from linear channel offerings because it was getting expensive because of sports. And now the places they ran to are accumulating expensive sporting rights that’ll raise the cost of services.

    • Chris

      May 12, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      Bingo! The original attraction of streaming was its affordability. Now that all the Big Boys are getting involved in streaming, everything is getting more expensive. The same people who ruined cable and satellite tv are now in the process of ruining streaming by making it increasingly unaffordable and inconvenient for the average viewer. People I know who several years ago were touting streaming as an alternative to watching sports, football in particular, are now making the same complaints about streaming that they were making about cable/satellite.

  10. JP

    May 12, 2022 at 9:46 am

    Everyone is all in on sports to drive streaming subscriptions….except Fox. Excerpt below from a WSJ article the other day. Seems short sighted to avoid that formula in fear of damaging their cable channels, when cable will soon be dead (and probably reformed under streaming, leaving us consumers in the same boat in the end haha)

    “Fox Corp won’t use its portfolio of live sports to boost its streaming platforms, Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch said on a call with analysts to discuss quarterly results.

    Many of Fox’s competitors, including Paramount Global and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, are offering live sports on their respective streaming services, Paramount+ and Peacock, to attract more subscribers. Mr. Murdoch said that for Fox such an approach would damage the significant distribution revenues it gets for its broadcast and cable channels.”

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