Apple's new deal to carry Major League Soccer games on its Apple TV platform shows the consumer electronics giant's growing interest in live sports. It also will serve as a test case for other sports leagues considering whether to go all in on streaming. Apple stock rose on Wednesday.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple on Tuesday announced a partnership with Major League Soccer that will see every MLS game streamed on the Apple TV app for the next decade. The global broadcast rights deal reportedly is worth $2.5 billion. It will run from early 2023 through 2032.
MLS fans will need to subscribe to a new streaming service in the Apple TV app. However, some games will be available to Apple TV+ subscribers at no additional charge. Plus, a limited number of games will be offered for free on the Apple TV app.
In a note to clients, JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee said the MLS deal should help boost subscribers for the Apple TV+ service. Apple TV+ has an estimated 25 million paid subscribers, he said.
Apple Stock Halts Four-Day Slide
"This deal makes MLS the largest major American sports league to move all of its games to a streaming service, instead of appearing on cable/broadcast TV, though a limited number of games will also be simulcast on linear TV," Chatterjee said.
He added, "Other leagues will be paying close attention to how MLS fan engagement performs over the life of the agreement, in determining how much of their own game inventory they want to shift toward streaming."
Chatterjee reiterated his overweight, or buy, rating on Apple stock with a price target of 200.
On the stock market today, Apple stock rose 2% to close at 135.43. On Tuesday, Apple stock climbed 0.7% to 132.76, ending a four-day skid in which it fell 11.3%.
Other Streaming Sports Deals
At its March 8 product launch event, Apple announced a deal with Major League Baseball to offer two games on Friday nights during the regular season on its Apple TV+ service. The weekly doubleheader includes live pregame and postgame shows.
Also, Apple reportedly is bidding on streaming rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket package of out-of-market football games.
Apple's deal follows Amazon's $1.2 billion-a-year agreement with the NFL to carry Thursday Night Football games starting this season. The NFL games will be available to members of the Amazon Prime subscription service.
Follow Patrick Seitz on Twitter at @IBD_PSeitz for more stories on consumer technology, software and semiconductor stocks.