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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

MLS: Apple Deal Ahead of Expectations Before Messi

  • MLS began its 10-year, $2.5 billion deal with Apple this year.
  • League executives said Apple viewership was better than expected before Lionel Messi joined the league.
Apple TV signage on the sidelines of an MLS match.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With Lionel Messi making his debut for Inter Miami on Friday, Major League Soccer is primed for an epic boost in interest and popularity. According to league SVP of Communications Dan Courtemanche, MLS’s key media partner was already pleased with its early returns before the global superstar came to the league.

“We’re ahead of projections … and that’s before Lionel Messi joined the league,” Courtemanche said on Front Office Sports Today. “Eddie Cue [who] oversees all video services, content, and everything at Apple, has said publicly that they are extremely pleased.” 

Courtemanche noted that Messi has a relationship with both Apple and MLS apparel supplier Adidas, and both were involved in the deal to bring him to Inter Miami. Apple has a vested interest in seeing the hype turn into long-term interest in the league.

“Traditional media rights agreement, you have a great partner who pays you money to broadcast your matches. In this case, we have a guaranteed fee [with Apple], but then we share in revenue above and beyond a certain threshold,” Courtemanche explained. 

Apple is in the first year of a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal with MLS.

Courtemanche also chimed in on the incredible influx of global soccer events coming to the U.S. in the next few years, namely the Copa America in 2024, the Club World Cup in 2025, and the World Cup in 2026.

“We’re bidding on the women’s World Cup in 2027, and if we don’t get it in 2027, I have to think we’ll get it in 2031.”

As MLS seeks to reach the same echelon as the Premier League and other top European leagues, it will remain the only one without a promotion and relegation system.

“We have no plans for promotion and relegation,” said Courtemanche.

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