Apple TV+ Sees Huge Spike in MLS Subscriptions Thanks to the ‘Messi Effect’




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Soccer legend Lionel Messi was always going to drive interest to Apple TV+’s Major League Soccer Season Pass. Now we know how much. 

More than 110,000 people in the U.S. signed up for MLS Season Pass to see Messi’s first game with Inter Miami against LIGA MX’s Cru Azul on July 21, up from 6,143 new members the day before, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a study from subscription analytics company Antenna. 

“There is only one Lionel Messi, so this was a very big moment for the sport in this country,” said Jonathan Carson, chief executive of Antenna. “Sports are definitely star-driven but that has never before translated into an enormous subscriber bump.”

Live sports are a driving factor for subscriptions across networks and streaming platforms. As more people decide to cut the cord with cable providers, a number of leagues are renewing rightsholder contracts with streaming in mind. Some have begun offering exclusive contracts with major networks, while others are offering seasons or parts of seasons to streaming services, such as YouTube and Amazon.

In 2022, Apple signed a ten-year deal worth $2.5 billion for exclusivity rights for MLS games. The MLS Season Pass launched in February as a home to soccer where members can watch all live games as well as replays of class matches and highlight reels on one app.

“We are beating our expectations in terms of subscribers, and the fact that Messi went to Inter Miami helped us out there a bit,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, during an earnings call in August.

Apple TV+ costs $6.99 a month. Members can tack on the MLS Season Pass for $12.99 a month or $25 per season with an Apple TV+ subscription. Without an Apple TV+ membership, the pass costs $14.99 a month or $29 per season.

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