Fans of Major League Soccer will have to adjust the way they watch their favorite team. No longer will the games be broadcasted on a local channel or traditional networks such as ESPN and Fox. Let’s look at your options on tuning into one of America’s fastest growing sports leagues. The MLS season starts this upcoming weekend, February 25th.
Major League Soccer Will Be Streaming Only
For decades, cable tv was the only way to watch some of the biggest sporting events, soccer included. Even with the increase in ditching cable, the networks have made their streaming services supplementary to their main coverage rather than replacing it. However, starting this season, Major League Soccer has a ten-year deal with Apple to be the exclusive provider of all the games.
In order to watch, fans will need to purchase the MLS Season Pass with Apple TV. The package will cost $99 for the season or $15 per month. Current Apple TV subscribers get a discount for adding the package. They would pay $79 for the season or $13 per month. Season ticket holders to any club will receive one free subscription.
The league and Apple have announced they will make a handful of games per week free to watch. They will rotate the matchups, so that it is not the same teams every week. All of the February 25th and 26th matches will be free for opening weekend, but there will only be six games that do not require a paid subscription the following week.
For fans that do not have an Apple product with the Apple TV app, they can still sign up using tv.apple.com and using their browser. So whether someone is an Android, Windows, or Chrome user, they will be covered.
Will This Work For Major League Soccer?
It is too early to tell whether or not the subscription to watch Major League Soccer will be successful. The league is known for a rather small but loyal fan base, so current fans are likely to quickly adapt to the new way of tuning in. Luckily season ticket holders do not have to shell out additional money to watch their favorite club when they are on the road, which is a nice perk.
As for growing the popularity of the league, that’s another question. Will the casual fan that might attend or watch just a handful of games buy the pass? With cable tv and other streaming services continuing to rise in price, spending another $100 for this service might be expensive for some. The good news is a few matches per week will be free to watch without the subscription which could eventually entice people to buy into it.
With the most popular leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and college sports continuing to rely on the cable networks for the majority of games, the MLS is taking a bold move. It is risky but with streaming services being the future of watching sports in America, it is likely here to stay. Other leagues may follow suit within the next five to ten years or possibly sooner.
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