Apple is in talks with FIFA to acquire the global broadcast rights to 2025’s FIFA Club World Cup in the United States. If the deal between FIFA and Apple goes through later this month, the FIFA Club World Cup could be the rocket fuel that MLS (Major League Soccer) needs to drive subscriptions to MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

The New York Times indicates that FIFA has had difficulty selling the Club World Cup rights to the competition. The 2025 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup is the biggest ever featuring 32 teams. However, FIFA’s $4 billion valuation of the rights could be sold for a quarter of that, roughly $1 billion.

“FIFA was hoping that the tournament, which will feature a mix of successful teams from across the globe, including 12 from Europe, where most of the world’s top talent plays, would create huge demand from broadcasters and commercial partners,” wrote reporter Tariq Panja. “But a combination of poor planning and delays prompted broadcasters to balk at the figures FIFA had sought.

“A global deal with a major company like Apple may give the tournament the veneer of high quality that Infantino has been trying to secure.”

Our Pick:

Includes: Every regular season game, MLS Cup Playoffs, Leagues Cup, & More

Sign Up

How MLS fits into the Apple and FIFA Club World Cup deal

The clubs already qualified for the 2025 Club World Cup include several headline acts. Those are Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Flamengo, Fluminense, and Palmeiras. Unfortunately, Arsenal and Barcelona didn’t qualify. Elsewhere, Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami team is out of the competition after losing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Yet, Inter Miami could still reach the competition if they win MLS Cup 2024.

So far, Seattle Sounders is the only MLS team in the Club World Cup. Regardless, if Apple acquires the exclusive global rights to the Club World Cup, this could be the rocket fuel that MLS needs to increase subscriptions to MLS Season Pass.

Having MLS Season Pass and a FIFA Club World Cup subscription on the same Apple TV platform will allow Apple to cross-sell both competitions to each audience. For Apple and MLS, it’ll also bring in a whole new audience that’s currently not watching MLS. In addition, having the FIFA Club World Cup on Apple TV will help ease more sports fans into watching soccer on the platform.

If Apple wants its Apple TV platform to be the future of soccer broadcasting, having the FIFA Club World Cup and MLS available as global deals is certainly heading in the right direction. It’ll also encourage other soccer leagues to consider making global rights a possibility as they contemplate future rights deals.

Is the FIFA Club World Cup important enough for fans to care?

While the trio of Apple, MLS, and FIFA will certainly be buoyant about how it can exploit the global viewing audience for the tournament, the big question is, does anyone care about the Club World Cup?

All of the different iterations of the FIFA Club World Cup have largely been ignored by most soccer fans in Europe. In fact, most European fans see the competition as a glorified friendly. Winning it isn’t that important to them. Conversely, in South America, the competition is seen as hugely important. It’s a matter of pride for fans in South America, who often boast about teams from Brazil winning the contest.

So, when the 32 teams worldwide start the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, will the competition have enough swagger to get people to pay to watch the games on Apple TV? For instance, will fans of the European clubs care? And if the hardcore fans of clubs won’t care, will the neutrals be that interested either?

A lot of it will depend on each individual. For Apple, though, it can expect a lot of interest from Brazil, in particular.

Could it make a difference in the United States?

Perhaps more importantly for Apple and MLS, it can expect a lot of interest from sports fans in North America who value the FIFA Club World Cup much more than how Europeans rate it.

Having the global rights to the FIFA Club World Cup could be ideal for Apple. The tech giant can position the competition as bringing the world’s best teams together to crown a world champion. On paper that makes sense, but will it be enough to win over fans or create new ones?

With World Cup 2026 around the corner, it’s a gamble that FIFA and Apple are willing to take. The consequence could be a big boost for MLS Season Pass which, at last count, had two million subscribers at the end of 2023.

Guide to Major League Soccer

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of MLS Season Pass!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
Season Pass FAQ: We answer your questions about MLS Season Pass
Sign up: Learn how to subscribe to MLS Season Pass
Commentators: Check out who's calling the action for the MLS season
Android users Tips for fans Android users on how to watch MLS Season Pass

Photo: IMAGO / Rene Traut.