North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) has agreed a 10-year global media rights deal with tech giant Apple to stream every match in what both parties have called a “historic first for a major professional sports league”.

From 2023, all live MLS matches will be shown around the world on the Apple TV streaming service until 2032 in an agreement worth around $2.5 billion, or $250 million per year.

The platform will additionally air games from the Leagues Cup, the annual competition contested by clubs in MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX, and select matches from the MLS NEXT Pro affiliate league and MLS NEXT youth league.

Games from all competitions will be shown without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay-TV bundle.

Viewers can watch every live MLS match by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app.

In addition to live match coverage, the service will air a weekly live match ‘whip-around’ show – similar to the NFL’s RedZone – to show key moments from matches, as well as game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming.

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By GlobalData

A wide selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free.

Additionally, access to the new MLS streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages.

All MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include commentary in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French.

Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights in the News app.

Full details for the new service, including subscription pricing, match schedules, and coverage plans, will be announced in the coming months.

The partnership with MLS is Apple’s second rights agreement with a major US sports league after the tech powerhouse made its first entry into live sports with an exclusive streaming deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) in March.

Through the MLB deal, Apple is showing Friday night games every week this season across eight countries.

Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, said: “Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans.

“Given Apple's ability to create a best-in-class user experience and to reach fans everywhere, it'll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you're a super fan or casual viewer.”

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, added: “For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place.

“It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration – just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS anywhere and anytime you want to watch.

“We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”

Apple has followed in the footsteps of rival Amazon which has been showing live sports in recent years and now has an exclusive, long-term deal with American football’s NFL.

Apple is also believed to be keen to secure the NFL’s premium Sunday Ticket offering in the US.

In an effort to bolster its sports content, the company has also acquired rights to a 10-part docuseries about the NFL’s New England Patriots and recently released a four-part docuseries about NBA basketball legend Magic Johnson.

Conrad Wiacek, head of analysis at GlobalData Sport, commented: “The announcement that Apple TV is entering into a 10-year global media rights deal worth $250 million annually is another indication that Apple sees tremendous value in sports media rights as it looks to build an audience for its platform. Already having a deal with Major League Baseball in place, Apple TV could become a serious player for other major sports rights moving forward, with US rights to F1 up at the end of the year.

“The move by the streaming service for more sports content to pair with its current slate of in-house produced content signals that the need to attract more viewers is paramount. With the rights to cricket's Indian Premier League going for over for $6.2 billion this week, it signals that the appetite for sports rights is undiminished as the last bastion of appointment, must-see television and we can expect to see further development in this area over the next 12 months.”