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It would be easier for Amazon to make an arrangement for one game per week than for several overlapping Sunday games but is the Thursday night game that important? I believe the decision could go either way for both offerings.
Yes, the Thursday night game is that important.
 

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I do not understand this deal at all. The $$ just do not make sense. This is the whole rights deal, yes, but this is a league that is getting 0.3 or so on broadcast TV and a third of that on "cable" channels. I do not have access to what the teams get on local TV and RSNs, but I cannot imagine its much. The number of subscribers to the "Direct Kick" out of market package is a handful.
 

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This might have some relevance here, since about 1/3 of MLS owners are also NFL owners. It also goes to Apple going big on sports. Supposedly $2.5 billion for 10 years.

So this news about a new MLS-specific direct-to-consumer streaming service, offered by Apple, is a great illustration of the thesis I've repeatedly laid out about the future of sports broadcasting. To recap, I think we're going to see the vast majority of popular sports' regular season games be sold through services dedicated to a particular sport/league/team. This may be done directly by the owner of the league/team or, as in this case, through a powerful third party such as Apple to help improve the service's distribution/reach. This kind of service is intended to reach serious fans of that particular sport/league/team.

However, a sprinkling of the sport's regular season games, as well as most of its playoff/championship games, will instead be included on a major general entertainment streaming service -- this is the level/type of sports content that can appeal to casual fans, many of whom will want to subscribe to that service anyhow.

And this appears to be exactly what will happen here. To see most MLS matches, you'll need to specifically pay for the forthcoming Apple-branded MLS service, which will be offered inside the Apple TV app. (My guess is that it will simply be another of the so-called a la carte "Apple TV Channels," which currently include the likes of Showtime, Cinemax, AMC+, PBS Living, BritBox, etc.) But select MLS matches will be offered as part of the main Apple TV+ service, which of course mainly features a variety of Apple Original series like Ted Lasso and Severance as well as various original feature films, documentaries, kids' shows, plus other select live sports like Friday Night MLB.
 

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Godfather
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I do not understand this deal at all. The $$ just do not make sense. This is the whole rights deal, yes, but this is a league that is getting 0.3 or so on broadcast TV and a third of that on "cable" channels. I do not have access to what the teams get on local TV and RSNs, but I cannot imagine its much. The number of subscribers to the "Direct Kick" out of market package is a handful.
It’s looking like Apple is getting streaming right for everything… in market, out of market and international.

The league appears to still be able to sell linear broadcast rights, and expects to have ESPN and Univision broadcast national games. Local rights for teams is a mixed bag… some OTA, some RSN, some none, but most teams make little off local rights.

I’d be surprised if there are any Direct Kick customers today… ESPN+ includes out of market MLS. I guess the 7 or so remaining DirecTV customers that are MLS fans maybe subscribe to it. MLS fans tend to be younger than the other leagues, so more likely to stream?!?


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And this appears to be exactly what will happen here. To see most MLS matches, you'll need to specifically pay for the forthcoming Apple-branded MLS service, which will be offered inside the Apple TV app. (My guess is that it will simply be another of the so-called a la carte "Apple TV Channels," which currently include the likes of Showtime, Cinemax, AMC+, PBS Living, BritBox, etc.) But select MLS matches will be offered as part of the main Apple TV+ service, which of course mainly features a variety of Apple Original series like Ted Lasso and Severance as well as various original feature films, documentaries, kids' shows, plus other select live sports like Friday Night MLB.
From the latest I'm reading, it sounds like a subscription to Apple's MLS service will not require a subscription to Apple TV+, the same as is true of existing Apple TV Channels. But it also sounds like that service will include access to all MLS matches, including whichever ones Apple decides to also stream as part of Apple TV+. This is a surprisingly pro-consumer move, IMO. I'd have expected any specific match to be featured only on one service or the other. Or perhaps for the MLS service to be an add-on requiring Apple TV+, making the distinction unimportant to those buying the MLS service.

Makes me wonder if my prediction is correct that NFL Sunday Ticket, should Apple be the distributor, will necessarily include an Apple TV+ subscription. I still tend to think so, given that it can be bought on its own for just $50/yr and I expect NFLST to cost significantly more than that. Wonder how much the MLS service might cost though?
 

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It’s looking like Apple is getting streaming right for everything… in market, out of market and international.

The league appears to still be able to sell linear broadcast rights, and expects to have ESPN and Univision broadcast national games. Local rights for teams is a mixed bag… some OTA, some RSN, some none, but most teams make little off local rights.
Yes, OTT/DTC sports rights are a separate thing versus traditional TV (broadcast/cable) rights. In some cases, they're sold together, although in this new case with MLS, they're being sold separately. The recent new decade-long deal the NFL struck with various distributors -- Paramount/CBS, NBCUniversal, Disney/ESPN, Fox, Amazon -- include both. In the case of Amazon, it appears that they won't exercise the traditional rights, just the OTT/DTC rights.

The opposite appears to be the case with Fox, at least so far. They don't own a subscription OTT/DTC service, just a free ad-supported one (Tubi). And they don't want to undercut the value of their Fox broadcast network, which fetches lots of retrans money from MVPD subscriptions, by live streaming their local Sunday afternoon NFL games for free on Tubi. But I wonder how long Fox will resist monetizing those streaming rights. So far, I think their thinking is that they want to keep those games exclusive to their broadcast network to prop up those cable retrans fees charged by Fox affiliates (only some of which are directly owned by Fox). But the reality is that more and more Americans cut the cord every year and most of those folks, if they care to bother with an OTA antenna, could watch Fox's Sunday NFL games live for the low monthly cost of $0.00. So I don't think that Fox's logic really holds. They would increase, not decrease, their overall profits if they met an increasing number of consumers where they are and allowed them to pay to live stream their NFL games.

I guess it's possible that Fox could launch a little NFL-only subscription tier to Tubi. Maybe you'd have to buy the entire season, with the price dropping gradually as the season progresses? But it would be simpler, and probably more lucrative for Fox, and therefore just more plausible all the way around, if Fox just sold the OTT/DTC rights to their local NFL games to a deep-pocketed third party. Like Apple. Or Amazon. Or, who knows, maybe Disney/ESPN+.
 

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Cool Member/Supporter
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Meanwhile, Apple has been subpoenaed in the anti-trust lawsuit involving DirecTV and the NFL even though they do not currently even own the rights to any NFL games.

Maybe someone who is knowledgeable in the law can explain why this subpoena is even valid and why it shouldn't be tossed by the judge.

Apple fights NFL Sunday Ticket plaintiffs over antitrust subpoena | Reuters
 

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Beware the Attack Basset
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Someone is barking up the wrong tree in trying to pry out NDA-covered negotiation details.
 

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Meanwhile, Apple has been subpoenaed in the anti-trust lawsuit involving DirecTV and the NFL even though they do not currently even own the rights to any NFL games.

Maybe someone who is knowledgeable in the law can explain why this subpoena is even valid and why it shouldn't be tossed by the judge.
Now will any teams want to get into the MIX (Say X team wants to be able to sell there own games out of market on there own?)
Teams want the NFL to have an ONE team choice like how the MLB , NBA , NHL has for there out of market packages?

So this news about a new MLS-specific direct-to-consumer streaming service, offered by Apple, is a great illustration of the thesis I've repeatedly laid out about the future of sports broadcasting. To recap, I think we're going to see the vast majority of popular sports' regular season games be sold through services dedicated to a particular sport/league/team. This may be done directly by the owner of the league/team or, as in this case, through a powerful third party such as Apple to help improve the service's distribution/reach. This kind of service is intended to reach serious fans of that particular sport/league/team.
Now how much can the league take away from the team's with out running in to anti-trust issues or Sherman Act issues ?

 

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Now how much can the league take away from the team's with out running in to anti-trust issues or Sherman Act issues ?

The Supreme Court found in that decision that individual NFL teams are separate economic actors. But clearly the league can and does negotiate broadcast deals on behalf of all NFL teams, apparently with the legal consent of all the league's individual teams.

I don't know how other leagues are legally structured. Well, I do know that individual MLB teams are very much independent actors -- teams are individually owned and can make individual decisions with regard to TV streaming rights unless they cede those rights to the league. With the much newer Major League Soccer, IDK. What we do know is that the MLS was able to pull off a historic, sweeping deal with Apple for a new DTC service that will include both in-market and out-of-market games with no blackouts. Really great for MLS fans. (Meanwhile, MLS will continue to sell traditional broadcast TV rights too, completely separate from the Apple deal.)

It's looking like streaming of MLB in-market games is going to be a bit of a messy, piecemeal affair. So far, there are five or so teams that have sold those rights to Sinclair/Bally Sports to be part of their new DTC app launching this summer. It's expected that the Cubs may work with them to have their own separate DTC app, given that they already co-own with them their separate Marquee regional sports net on cable. My guess would be that the Yankee and maybe one or two other popular, rich MLB teams would also launch their own DTC app. And the Boston Red Sox have sold their DTC streaming rights to NESN, who just launched their new app.

As for the rest of the teams in the league, I think most/all of them end up selling their DTC streaming rights to the league itself. Why not? They already have a great app, MLB.tv, that streams out-of-market games for the entire league. It's always made the most sense to me that that same service would eventually sell in-market games too.

I predict that the next thing we see happen is the bankruptcy of Sinclair's Diamond Sports division in a couple years, which will mean that those MLB teams that have signed on with them (Brewers, Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Rays) will end up being released from that deal and will end up just joining the league's service in the MLB.tv app. The economics of the whole RSN model are very unstable right now and I think Sinclair overextended themselves with the purchase of all those former Fox RSNs which now constitute Diamond Sports. And, of course, since they hold both the broadcast and DTC streaming rights to a whole bunch of NBA and NHL teams too, that means that a hypothetical future collapse of Diamond/Bally Sports would mean the NBA and NHL would probably follow MLB's lead in offering their own DTC app. Again, might be one or two of the biggest teams who insist on their own app but the vast majority would participate in the league solution. The NBA already has an app for out-of-market games, so they'd just extend that to handle in-market games too (same as the MLB will do). The NHL sold their out-of-market rights to ESPN+. So, who knows, they might work with them again to create an ESPN-branded NHL in-market games service, either as its own app or as an add-on to ESPN+.

EDIT: To extend the prediction above, perhaps we'd see the MLB and NBA form a JV production company that would buy the assets of a bankrupt Diamond Sports from Sinclair, giving them the instant talent, equipment and contracts necessary to produce and air live games for all the MLB and NBA teams that currently air on Diamond's various RSNs. But each league would sell their own in-market and out-of-market viewing packages, both via DTC streaming as well as on traditional cable TV. Meanwhile, those MLB and NBA teams already affiliated with non-Diamond RSNs might see those relationships continue on for awhile, at least for in-market games on the traditional TV side.
 

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Godfather
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With the much newer Major League Soccer, IDK. What we do know is that the MLS was able to pull off a historic, sweeping deal with Apple for a new DTC service that will include both in-market and out-of-market games with no blackouts. Really great for MLS fans. (Meanwhile, MLS will continue to sell traditional broadcast TV rights too, completely separate from the Apple deal.)
From an ownership standpoint, Major League Soccer is a strange beast. The league is a single entity and owns all of the teams. The league has investor/operators who operate the individual teams. The investor/operators perform from office tasks, hire coaching staff, and those types of activities. All players are under contract to the league, not the teams.

The main point of the single entity was to control player costs. There was a memory of spiraling players salaries that killed off the North American Soccer League (NASL) of the 1970s. Owners wanted to prevent that and give the league some ability to grow.

MLS also owned Soccer United Marketing (SUM) that licensed the rights for both MLS and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF)… the US men’s and women’s national teams.

Creation of a Division 1 professional soccer league was a condition of the US getting the 1994 World Cup. It’s really been the past decade that MLS has grown. It was a board vote away from dissolution in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Todays, it’s one of the most competitive top flight leagues in the world, although many think the quality of play is not as good as the top European leagues.




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I guess it's possible that Fox could launch a little NFL-only subscription tier to Tubi. Maybe you'd have to buy the entire season, with the price dropping gradually as the season progresses? But it would be simpler, and probably more lucrative for Fox, and therefore just more plausible all the way around, if Fox just sold the OTT/DTC rights to their local NFL games to a deep-pocketed third party. Like Apple. Or Amazon. Or, who knows, maybe Disney/ESPN+.
Another possibility just occurred to me: perhaps in the next few years we'll see Fox sell a Tubi Sports Premium subscription tier inside the otherwise free Tubi app that will be home to all of the live sports that Fox carries across their various channels: Fox, FS1, FS2, and Big 10 Network. Or, at least, all of the live sports for which they have the contractual rights to offer via a DTC OTT service. That certainly includes those Sunday NFL games and I would imagine at least some, probably most, of the other sports they air across those four networks. Last year Tubi launched a "Sports on Tubi" section in the free app but it's just low-value stuff like highlights, replays, talk, etc. Why not offer a paid upgrade tier to Sports on Tubi? And, while we're at it, why not also offer in-app sports betting?

I do think the long-term playbook for the Fox broadcast network is that at least the most recent 5 episodes of all of its non-sports content will eventually stream on-demand for free in Tubi, just as has been the case with The CW for years. I even think that eventually Tubi will offer a live stream of the Fox network, except for sports. They're not going to give away that expensive live sports content. Yet as cable subscriptions continue to collapse, they'll need a way to sell that content to cord-cutters. So the hypothetical "Tubi Sports Premium" add-on, which might sell for $5/mo, would essentially give Fox a way to bring all their sports content direct to consumers apart from the traditional cable channel bundle. Meanwhile, they would package a live stream of their Fox News and Fox Business cable channels inside the existing Fox Nation DTC app. So that would be the way that they sell that content apart from the cable bundle.

A few years ago, back when Fox still included the 20th Century Fox studios/brand, the overall "Fox" brand was broader than it is today. Increasingly, consumers now understand "Fox" to be shorthand for "Fox News." Which in an increasingly politically polarized country is NOT good for the Fox broadcast network and the Fox Sports cable nets, which try to have pretty much nothing to do with divisive politics and instead appeal to as broad a group of viewers as they can. So it honestly wouldn't shock me if the Fox Corp. made the business decision to change the name of the Fox broadcast network at some point to Tubi TV. And likewise change the names of the sports nets, FS1 and FS2, to Tubi Sports 1 and Tubi Sports 2. It sounds a bit crazy, I know, but the Tubi app is a big growth area for them and represents a fresh new brand that doesn't carry the divisive political baggage that the old Fox brand now does.
 

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When the NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox, the deals included language that mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price so as not to pull too many eyeballs away from the local market Sunday afternoon games acquired by the broadcast networks, three of the people said.

That means any owner of Sunday Ticket rights won’t be able to significantly lower the price on the out-of-market package, which typically costs about $300 per year. It also prevents an existing streaming service, such as ESPN+, to simply add in Sunday Ticket at little or no extra cost to boost subscribers.
This is what I was worried about. Although you don’t need an additional D* subscription in order to get it, I wonder how many people are going to subscribe to it if it’s still at a premium price?
 

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Godfather
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If someone is a fan, how likely are they to substitute the local faire?
Isn’t this the problem, though? There is some indication based on DirecTV’s experience. As a premium product, that was about 2 million people. The product was available the past few years through streaming for people without line of sight for satellites.

Relatively speaking, a DirecTV subscription was a relatively low cost of entry to be able to get Sunday Ticket… it was not much different than a comparable cable subscription, even with the fees. Let’s face it, cable has similar fees.

It’s clearly a question of how many fans of out-of-market teams or want to pay to watch about 10 to 12 Sunday afternoon game that aren’t already doing so.


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Beware the Attack Basset
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Relatively speaking, a DirecTV subscription was a relatively low cost of entry to be able to get Sunday Ticket… it was not much different than a comparable cable subscription, even with the fees. Let’s face it, cable has similar fees.
There's nothing relatively low cost about what DIRECTV DBS satellite customers pay for service. Paying $1,200+ per year to have access to Sunday Ticket is a high bar.

The alternatives aren't just cable or DISH subscriptions. They are OTT services as well as targeted streaming services.
 

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Paying $1,200+ per year to have access to Sunday Ticket is a high bar.
Are you assuming that people are paying $75 more for DIRECTV without ST than any other provider?
 
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