In a surprising turn of events, Apple's 10-year, $2.5 billion deal for MLS broadcast rights has been catapulted into new heights with the exclusive worldwide debut of soccer legend Lionel Messi in its first season. When the tech giant sealed the deal for MLS broadcast rights just over a year ago, they had no inkling that they would become the sole home of Messi's debut with Inter Miami against Liga MX club Cruz Azul.
Messi's eagerly awaited debut match can now only be viewed on the MLS Season Pass via Apple TV+ at 8 p.m. ET, drawing tremendous attention and excitement from soccer enthusiasts around the globe. Apple's efforts to secure Messi's involvement in MLS were so monumental that they even agreed to share revenue from MLS Season Pass with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.
The arrival of Lionel Messi has significantly boosted the value of Apple's global rights to distribute MLS games. Previously, it may have been challenging to justify the interest of international fans in purchasing an MLS Season Pass subscription. However, with Messi's presence on the field, the demand has skyrocketed, with fans from all corners of the world eager to catch a glimpse of the soccer superstar in Miami.
Sports attorney Irwin Kishner commented on Apple's astute move, stating, "It makes Apple look really smart," acknowledging the profound impact of securing such a legendary player's exclusive debut on their platform.
Despite the MLS Season Pass being priced at $99 per season for non-Apple TV+ subscribers, it has exceeded expectations for signups and viewership. Responding to the overwhelming enthusiasm, Apple has now reduced the subscription cost to $49 for the remainder of the 2023 campaign.
As the season progresses, Apple anticipates even more significant financial gains in the upcoming year as Inter Miami gears up for a full season with Messi, setting their sights on a potential championship victory. With the world's eyes fixed on Messi's performance in the MLS, the tech giant's decision to invest in the league has proven to be a highly strategic move, solidifying their position as a major player in the global sports media landscape.