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With NBA on deck, Apple’s sports strategy comes into focus

Apple’s 10-year (at minimum), $2.5 billion deal to stream Major League Soccer games is different and potentially groundbreaking. It could be a factor for the NBA’s next broadcast deal, which is up in 2025. It could be a landmark moment in how we watch sports and how leagues grow in the changing digital environment.

It also could be a dud.

MLS, now 29 years old, has had an impressive run, creating a league and making its in-stadium experiences exceptional, but it has failed to become must-see TV. And this deal could make it increasingly irrelevant if its pitch to tech savvy, younger doesn’t see them flocking to its new way of presenting games.

We first mentioned the possibility of an Apple-MLS in this newsletter in late January. Now, it is here, and it could change the landscape of sports media. To understand all the ways it could, Sports+ spoke to TV and professional league executives, as well as agents, about the long-term agreement and what it could mean for the future of live sports with an eye on the NBA’s rights that are up in the middle of this decade.

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