If a soccer league ever wanted to evolve, it may look a lot like MLS Season Pass. While Major League Soccer isn’t changing the soccer calendar, or the league structure, or any of the other aspects that annoy soccer fans, it is taking a big step forward to completely changing the way it presents itself. In fact, we’d argue that MLS Season is audacious in many ways.
Described by an industry source as an “overwhelming” task to pull off what MLS is attempting to do, the league is essentially creating its own broadcast network. Previously, the league would have relied on a combination of regional sports networks as well as FOX, ESPN and Univision to produce game and studio coverage. Now, jettisoned from that triumvirate (except for FOX), MLS is going into uncharted waters.
In the boat with MLS, the league has hired in the best-in-business when it comes to producing soccer games: IMG. Anyone who has watched a Premier League game outside of the United Kingdom is familiar with their focus on quality, as well as always staying ahead of the curve when it comes to production and camera angles.
Taking the reins at IMG is MLS Season Pass executive producer John McGuinness. Sources closer to the matter have told World Soccer Talk that McGuinness is extremely qualified at producing sports.
That expertise comes with an undisclosed major price tag for Major League Soccer. But you get what you pay for, and it’s imperative that the on-field product is best in class for MLS Season Pass. That’s even more true when you have a 10-year deal. Quality cannot be compromised.
How MLS Season Pass is audacious
For the first time in its 27-year history, Major League Soccer is in control of all of its parts. Previously, it was at the mercy of television networks and their conflicting schedules. But free from those restrictions, MLS has now been able to develop a blueprint for the league. Consistent kickoff times. No blackouts. Studio coverage. A whip-around show. Available in more than 100 countries with a global deal. The list goes on and on.
By starting with a clean slate, the league is putting its best foot forward to make MLS Season Pass a success. Kickoff times will largely happen on Saturday and Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm local time. Blackouts are a thing of the past, as coverage is available worldwide, both live and on-demand via MLS Season Pass. Meanwhile, the addition of long-needed whip-around show MLS 360 offers a way to see the best of Major League Soccer.
Guide to Major League Soccer
Consistent pre-game and post-game coverage shows are on tap, too. And despite initial reservations about the talent MLS was hiring, the league has for the most part responded to the criticism by hiring a qualified, eclectic group of expert commentators and analysts. The league is still missing the big-name lead commentator, but with MLS having a 10-year deal with Apple, there’s still time for that to happen later this year or afterwards.
Across the 2022 season, looking at the possible kickoff times a game could start across seven days in a week, MLS had an eye-popping 62 different start times. For 2023 and beyond, an average of 13 games are set to play every Saturday night at 7:30pm local time. Those 29 Saturday nights when games are played feature a similar format to Wednesday nights. On six different Wednesdays in the regular season, an average of 13 games will kick off at 7:30pm local time.
Out of all of the bells and whistles in MLS Season Pass, the most technologically advanced feature is the local radio broadcast. Never before has a streaming service allowed soccer fans the ability to listen to the local radio broadcast of a game, if they choose. By doing so, it appeases the fans who want a local voice calling games. At the same time, it allows others to choose a national MLS broadcast team who may be more unbiased.
Opportunity for MLS to grow outside of U.S.
Major League Soccer could have mailed it in when it came to broadcasting the games. For instance, they could have had most of the games called off monitors in a central, sterile location (similar to how FOX Sports called most of the Russia 2018 World Cup games from a studio in Los Angeles). However, MLS is having all of the commentators at the stadiums for MLS games.
With a league running in two countries across four different timezones, that’s a considerable expense to fly announcers to and from games.
What’s unique about MLS Season Pass is that it’s a global deal. So whether you’re watching the broadcast in Japan, United States, Australia, Argentina or over 80 other countries around the world, you get the same broadcast. Sure, you can select from English- or Spanish-language commentaries. But it’s the same voices heard around the world.
Here’s where the marketing power of Apple could open doors to create new followers of Major League Soccer. With no restrictions on broadcasts, there are no obstacles in the path for new fans. No other streaming service in the world allows the opportunity for so many fans to see games on the same platform. Of course, whether they get interested in watching the league or not is to be seen. Certainly, signing Leo Messi would generate instant interest.
Now in control of all of its parts, MLS has undergone a transformation in the way it structures its league. The league is all-in on MLS Season Pass. Whether the streaming subscription service is a success or not depends on many factors. But one thing is for sure. Major League Soccer is making sure that MLS Season Pass is the most technologically advanced soccer streaming service that has ever been created.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Women’s World Cup, Euro 2024 & Gold Cup
The New Home of MLS
- Price: $14.99/mo. for MLS Season Pass
- Watch every MLS game including playoffs & Leagues Cup
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & FA Cup
2,000+ soccer games per year
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- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & Brasileirāo
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season