Apple already announced a lot of the details on its MLS Season Pass, the company's biggest entry into live sports streaming yet. However, the company and the league still had a few details they hadn't yet revealed. As the start of the new season draws closer, the two collaborators announced more info today, including streaming and audio quality in addition to scheduling, the number of games and studio show formats
In what will be a disappointment for some, Apple will stream every game in 1080p. That's the same quality the company offered for its weekly Major League Baseball games last year. However, it's an improvement for MLS as every game wasn't available in 1080p previously. The plan is to have more cameras on the field at each match, so despite a lack of 4K, the comprehensive nature of the visuals should be better than what fans are used to seeing. All MLS regular season and Leagues Cup matches will also be streamed with Dolby 5.1 audio as well as alternate broadcast options like local radio.
One key thing that will be a welcome change for MLS fans is that the league has standardized game start times and scheduling. With a few exceptions, games will be on Saturday or Wednesday nights and they'll start at 7:30PM local time. There are some Sunday matches scheduled and a few afternoon games, but since MLS is dealing primarily with one broadcaster now, it had the ability to make things a lot easier to follow. Fans can expect at least 13 matches every Saturday or Wednesday night and they'll start at one of four times: 7:30PM Eastern, Central, Mountain or Pacific.
This schedule change also makes it easier to plan studio programming. Apple and MLS will offer three options: a preview show (MLS Countdown), a post-game show (MLS Wrap-up) and continuous "whiparound" coverage for the entire five hours games take place (MLS 360). A typical Saturday will begin with MLS Countdown 30 minutes prior to the east coast games kicking off. There will also be 15-minute installments of Countdown before the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zone matches begin. During the entire night, MLS 360 will offer coverage of key moments (goals) as they happen with live look-ins of in-progress matches with studio commentary. Finally, Wrap-up will air when all the games have concluded as a recap of all of the day's action.
In total, Apple and MLS will offer up almost 1000 games through Season Pass. That's every regular season game, the All Star Game and MLS Cup playoffs. Then there's the 77 matches of the Leagues Cup that will include every team from MLS and Mexico's Liga MX (group stage and knockout rounds). Season Pass will also stream 250 live MLS Next Pro matches from league-affiliated development teams, including playoffs and the championship game. There will also be over 100 games from the MLS Next youth level, some of which are tournaments or qualifying tournaments, with MLS club academies on display here.
As Apple has said before, MLS Season Pass will be available everywhere you find the Apple TV app. That includes the web, Apple TV (4K, HD and 3rd generation), iPhone, iPad and Mac as well as Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, Panasonic and Hisense smart TVs. You'll also find it on Roku, Fire TV, Android TV and Google TV streaming devices and it's available on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Comcast in the US, Sky in the UK, Free in France, Magenta TV in Germany and B TV in Slovakia are TV providers that offer access.
The 2023 season starts February 25th, but MLS Season Pass has already launched. There's plenty of on-demand content to prepare you for the season if you want to sign up now. The streaming plan costs $15 per month or $99 for the season. If you're an Apple TV+ customer, you'll get the discounted rates of $13/month or $79 a season. There will be a number of free games during the season, including every match on opening weekend. For a list of what you'll be able to watch without a subscription for the first month, check the MLS schedule here. Some games will also air on FOX and FS1.