Major League Soccer, or MLS, previously announced a 10-year deal with Apple TV to broadcast every game beginning in 2023. While the agreement has been in the works for months, details are still trickling in as we head towards the new year.
Despite the fact that MLS agreed a partnership with Apple TV, a majority of games will still be behind a paywall. The Athletic reports that only 210 of the 493 total games of MLS matches next season will be available for regular subscribers of the streaming service. This comes out to about 43% of the matches throughout the season. MLS season ticket holders, however, will not have to pay extra for these games.
The aforementioned report also suggests that MLS is scheduling fixtures for Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wednesday night could see six games available for free, while the remaining eight will be behind the paywall. Saturday matches, on the other hand, would feature four matches in front of the paywall. Match times are reportedly all set for 7:30PM local time for the Saturday schedule. There will also be one game each Sunday as well.
The agreement between the league and Apple TV will end blackouts as well. Every game will be available regardless of viewer location inside the United States.
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Questions persist about MLS deal with Apple TV
With the start of the season just four months away, there have not been an official announcement regarding commentators, analysts or on-air talent. MLS has supposedly interviewed every play-by-play announcer that worked for the league throughout the 2022 campaign. This was reportedly over 200 people.
Also, Apple and the league conducted test broadcasts to see which announcers have good chemistry with analysts. The plan is to utilize these commentators interchangeably throughout the season. This, however, can change depending on chemistry and fan reaction.
The Athletic report suggests that ESPN’s Taylor Twellman is being targeted by Apple. As his current contract with the sports media giant expires at the end of the year, Twellman would be available. The league is supposedly also looking at Luis Omar Tapia and Diego Balado as well. Currently at Univision, the duo could make the switch to be the main Spanish-language commentators at Apple.
While the list of commentators has not yet been confirmed, the on-air talent will be at the actual games. FOX Sports has received backlash in recent years for calling MLS matches from the studio.
Another revelation is that MLS games are going to be available in three different languages. Plans are currently to have at least 12 English-language teams, 12 Spanish, and three French. All Canadian games will be available in French.
One interesting development in the deal is that Apple TV will give viewers the option to mute TV commentators and allow local radio to be synched to the broadcast. This will be available for home teams only for the 2023 season. However, away fans can expect this option in years to come.
MLS is also still attempting to strike a simulcast deal as well. This could mean that ESPN, FOX Sports or Univision could still broadcast certain matches throughout the season. Nevertheless, each club will have their own ‘channel’ on Apple TV’s MLS coverage.
PHOTO: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
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