Don Garber, the commissioner of North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS), believes the country’s marketing expertise and global streaming broadcast partnership with OTT platform Apple TV have “raised the commercial value of soccer around the world.”

With the growth of soccer in the US ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Garber hopes the country can become a premier destination for the global soccer industry. 

Speaking at a media roundtable in Leipzig during a visit to Germany, Garber told reporters that the “innovative” and “seamless” broadcast experience offered by Apple has “transformed” not just global soccer, but global sport overall.

The MLS is just over a year into a 10-year broadcast partnership with Apple TV that has seen the OTT platform broadcast every MLS game globally without any blackouts, nor cable requirements, and Apple TV has since launched a dedicated MLS Season Pass streaming service specifically for the soccer competition.

Garber said of the partnership: “We think it's the next generation for a productive, efficient, viewer experience, and if Apple were to make foreign partnerships with anyone else in the [soccer] world, I think it would be great for them, great for whatever partner they would sign up, and great for Major League Soccer.”

The New Yorker, who has been MLS commissioner since 1999 and is also the chief executive of its wholly-owned for-profit marketing arm Soccer United Marketing, added that the maturity of the sports marketing landscape in the US has also benefitted global soccer, and has made the US a destination for soccer clubs.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

“The US market is the most valuable commercial market in the world,” he emphasized. “The world looks at the North American sports marketing model as being best in class, and that benefit that we can provide to other clubs, hopefully within the MLS family, is going to benefit both Major League Soccer and the respective clubs.”

Among the MLS’ most high-profile stars is naturally Lionel Messi, the legendary former Barcelona player who now represents Inter Miami.

Messi’s decision to move to MLS is one that helps the league’s goals of being seen as a “league of choice” for high-profile players and, as such, viewers and sponsors.

Garber said: “We can have great teams, compete at a high level, and attract the best player in the history of the game [Messi] against a lot of competition to come to our league. And that league of choice brand that we have is something that we're trying to instill in the hearts and minds of fans, partners, and media partners like Apple.”

As a popular commercial destination, MLS has several clubs part of multi-club ownership groups (that Garber referred to above as part of the MLS family) such as New York Red Bulls, owned by Red Bull which also owns Germany’s RB Leipzig, Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg, and Brazil’s Red Bull Bragantino,

Garber spoke at the RB Leipzig training ground following the club’s announcement of a pre-season tour of the US and further technical collaboration with the New York Red Bulls franchise and the MLS itself.

Sportec, the soccer data and fan experience solutions firm that MLS partnered with in 2023 came to the attention of Garber and the league via an introduction from the Bundesliga (Germany's top-flight).

Garber continued on the US as a market for global soccer teams: “Our market is becoming way more sophisticated. And having these tournaments [such as the Club World Cup] which MLS has been involved in is going to be an evolution of the sport.

“We are a very large market, we raised the commercial value of soccer around the world, both with media like the Apple deal, our commercial dynamic, what we’re doing with marketing and social media, and all the technology that we have. That's where we're a leader. So there are benefits that MLS can get when these clubs come in, and there are benefits that we could provide them.”