Apple (AAPL) has moved to strengthen its prospects as a sports broadcaster by acquiring streaming rights to Major League Soccer (MLS). Next year, the company will start streaming soccer matches through its Apple TV app as part of a 10-year deal. Bloomberg reports that some of the matches will be available for free to Apple TV+ subscribers.
The partnership with Apple will allow fans worldwide to watch MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro. All the MLS and Leagues Cup matches will come with English and Spanish commentary, with Canadian teams’ matches covered in French. Starting in 2023, fans will have to subscribe to a new MLS streaming service available exclusively on the Apple TV app to watch the matches.
More than a dozen companies, including Amazon (AMZN), have shown interest in securing streaming deals for the MLS. In its report, Bloomberg cited Sports Business Journal, which stated that Apple will pay a minimum of $250 million a year for the streaming rights, a premium despite the fact that the league had planned to collect more than $90 million annually.
MLS is believed to have settled on Apple as it will enable easy access to all the matches across all iOS devices as long as people have an internet connection. The tech giant is also expected to help accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen connections between fans and clubs, according to the Commissioner of MLS, Don Garber. Current deals with Walt Disney’s (DIS) ESPN, Fox, and Univision for the U.S. men’s soccer league will expire this year.
The deal with MLS comes on the heels of Apple’s agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB) to stream Friday night games on its streaming service. There are talks that the company is also pushing for a deal with the National Football League Sunday (NFL) as it looks to offer its consumers an array of sports to watch on the streaming service.
Wall Street’s Take
Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty has reiterated Apple’s Buy rating. However, the analyst has lowered the stock’s price rating to $185 from $195, which implies a 39.4% upside potential. According to the analyst, high-end consumer spending intentions are deteriorating with consumer confidence at a 10-year low and inflation at a 40-year high.
The Street is bullish about Apple’s stock going by the Strong Buy consensus rating, based on 21 Buys and six Holds. In addition, the average Apple price target of $186.33 implies a 40.4% upside potential from current levels.
TipRanks data shows that financial blogger opinions are 86% Bullish on Apple, compared to a sector average of 66%.
Apple makes a good chunk of its revenue from iPhone sales. However, its services portfolio has been growing in recent years. A push to become a sports broadcaster should strengthen the company’s offerings on the services front and its revenue base.
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