Apple plans to include ads in Major League Soccer coverage - report

Apple is leveraging its Major League Soccer streaming deal to expand into the advertising space, per a Bloomberg report from Friday.

The tech giant is holding discussions with advertising partners and MLS sponsors about airing ads during soccer games and “related shows,” people familiar with the matter told the outlet.

Apple in June inked a 10-year deal with MLS, making the Apple TV app the exclusive home to all live MLS matches starting in 2023. MLS season pass holders will get access to the full sports package (via MLS’ forthcoming new streaming service), while Apple TV+ subscribers will be able to watch most MLS and Leagues Cup matches. A select number of games will be available for free on Apple TV.

Ads will be included in all three tiers of the sports package, Bloomberg said. MLS and Apple have yet to disclose pricing for the season pass, but the league’s website indicates more information about the games will be “announced in the coming months.”

Additionally, Apple plans to show MLS highlights within its News app.

The MLS 2023 season is scheduled to kick off on February 25, but sources told The Athletic last month the league is running months behind in terms of setting up technical logistics for live streaming. For instance, MLS wants to stream all games in 1080p, with coverage from 15-20 field cameras.

If Apple were to build an advertising network around its MLS deal, it wouldn’t be the first time the tech giant has waded into sports advertising. Apple is reportedly paying $30 million in advertising for its MLB Friday Night Baseball coverage.

“Ads studded the games themselves, the pre-game shows, the initial delay caused by stadium-lighting issues, and everything in between,” TVRev’s David Bloom wrote earlier this year, describing the first set of MLB games hosted on Apple TV+.

Despite Apple’s moves into advertising, Apple TV+ is one of the only major streaming services without an ad-supported tier, though a recent report from Digiday suggests the company is “preparing a more serious push” in monetizing its original content.

Apple also recently hiked prices for the Apple TV+ subscription, from $4.99 per month to $6.99 monthly.