It was a big year for football in 2023, for both the American and international versions. On the pigskin front, NFL Sunday Ticket made a (mostly) successful leap to YouTube TV. And the beautiful game found a new North American home on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass.
Major League Soccer will be even bigger in 2024. There’s a new team (with a new stadium) in St. Louis this season and another on the way in San Diego in 2025. Oh, and Lionel Messi is still in Miami. And this year, he’s brought an old friend — fellow Argentinian Luis Suarez. Just in case you didn’t think there’d be any major storylines this year.
The MLS regular season opens Wednesday, February 21, with Real Salt Lake at (where else?) Inter Miami. And there’s a full slate of games on Saturday, February 24, to get the season fully underway. And it’s Sunday, February 25, that sees the first major showdown of the season, when Messi, Suarez and the rest of Inter Miami head west to play five-time MLS Cup winner L.A. Galaxy. (There are so many storylines there, including Inter Miami President David Beckham’s legacy there.)
Like the 2023 season, this year will see a mix of matches on broadcast TV in addition to Apple TV, but it’s MLS Season Pass that will let you watch every minute of every game. And MLS Season Pass more than proved itself in 2023.
“Launching MLS Season Pass was a transformational moment for our league as soccer fans throughout the world were able to watch MLS games with no restrictions and with terrific production quality thanks to our partnership with Apple,” Don Garber, MLS’s commissioner, said in a press release. “The first season overdelivered, and year two is going to be even better.”
Let’s get into it.
MLS Season Pass is pretty much what it sounds like — a subscription service that gets you every game this season, plus the playoffs, streaming on your favorite device. There aren’t any blackouts, and you can share your subscription with others in your family. And the streaming goes beyond just Major League Soccer. You’ll also get Leagues Cup — the annual tournament that pits teams from MLS against Mexico’s Liga MX teams. There’s also the MLS NEXT and MLS NEXT Pro developmental matches.
In other words, you’ll be able to stream a whole lot of professional soccer on MLS Season Pass.
The streaming will be done via the Apple TV app. That’s different from Apple TV (the little hardware box) and Apple TV+ (the premium content network with shows like Ted Lasso, Severance, and Shrinking). More on that below. But basically, if you can get online, you can get the Apple TV app. And that means you can get MLS Season Pass.
MLS Season Pass is about the games, of course. But it also goes deeper. There’s advanced coverage of every team, so you can dive deep into your favorite club (or your bitter rival if that’s how you roll). There’s news. There are highlights. There will be interviews. There are player features.
And, of course, there will be games and replays.
As a way to attract more subscribers, not every match will require an MLS Season Pass subscription. Some will be available for free. That includes every match from the first week of competition, but there will be other freebies throughout the season.
The pricing breakdown for MLS Season Pass is pretty simple.
- $15 a month or $99 a season if you’re not a subscriber to Apple TV+
- $13 a month or $80 a season if you subscribe to Apple TV+
A few things we learned from 2023 are worth noting here, though keep in mind that the following haven’t been announced again for 2024, and this year could well be different:
One other thing — if you have a season ticket account with an MLS team, you’ll get a free subscription to MLS Season Pass.
Even though Apple is the rights-holder for
, you don’t actually have to own an Apple device to watch. That’s because Apple TV (the streaming app) is available on pretty much every modern media device. That means things like iPhones and iPads, of course, but also Roku and Amazon Fire TV, which remain the two most popular streaming platforms. You can also get the Apple TV app on Android TV and Google TV, PlayStation and Xbox, various smart TV systems, Comcast Xfinity, and other set-top boxes.
If, for some reason, none of that works for you, Apple TV is also available in a web browser at tv.apple.com.
You will, though, need to rig up an Apple ID because that’s what the subscription will run through.
Nope. You won’t have the option to watch MLS Season Pass in 4K resolution. It’ll top out at 1080p.
While that’s a little disappointing on paper — we’ve very much enjoyed other sports in 4K resolution, even though it’s all upscaled — it’s also not a deal breaker. A good 1080p feed at 60 frames per second is just fine for live sports. And we’ll take a minimally compressed 1080p feed over a 4K feed compressed within an inch of its life any day of the week.
Another technical tidbit is that the matches will also be available with 5.1 surround sound. You’ll need a speaker setup that can support all those channels, of course — that’s front-right-center, two rears, and a subwoofer. But a basic soundbar setup can handle that just fine.
One of the most exciting features for streaming sports is multiview. It’s not a new invention, but it certainly is a welcome one.
If you’re using an Apple TV 4K box — which, by the way, is still our pick for the best streaming hardware you can buy — to watch MLS Season Pass, you’ll be able to watch multiple games simultaneously via multiview. (Apple TV 4K also has it for Major League Baseball.) You can watch up to four matches simultaneously in split-screen, and pick and choose which audio comes through. You also get to pick which games you want to watch at the same time.
Pardon the sports pun, but it truly is a game-changer for sports in general and MLS Season Pass in particular.
MLS matches are just part of what you’ll get with MLS Season Pass in terms of the games themselves. A subscription also gets you access to MLS Next and MLS Next Pro. Those are two developmental leagues that are meant to identify and filter players up through the MLS system.
MLS Next involves teams from Under-13 to Under-19 — basically high school-age players. MLS Next Pro is a little newer, features 28 teams, and aims to be a Division III pro league, a step down from the USL Championship. That’s the live soccer, though. There also will be a fair amount of shows bookending the games themselves.
MLS Countdown is the exact sort of pregame show you’d expect, with predictions and analysis and a look at what’s to come week after week. After the game is MLS Wrap-Up, with live post-game commentary. It’ll be a long day for Jillian Sakovits and Andrew Wiebe, who will lead both English-version shows, along with analysts Nigel Reo-Coker, Calen Carr, Shep Messing, and Matt Doyle. And look for Canadian Olympian Kaylyn Kyle to return in multiple roles, too.
MLS 360 is what’s called a “whip-around” show and “will provide live look-ins from every match, and feature every goal, penalty kick, and big save, as well as analysis and discussion.” Unlike NFL RedZone, soccer doesn’t quite lend itself to peeking in the same way, since scoring opportunities aren’t as predictable. But it should be close enough to happening in real time to work.
And this year, MLS 360 will be available in Spanish, hosted by Tony Cherchi, along with Miguel Gallardo.
The MLS season is a long one, running from spring to late fall. The February 25-26 matches and many of the March 4 matches are all available for free on MLS Season Pass, even if you don’t yet have a subscription. All times are Eastern.
Wednesday, February 21
- Real Salt Lake at Inter Miami, 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 24
- Atlanta at Columbus, 2 p.m.
- Seattle at LAFC, 4:30 p.m. (also on Fox)
- NYCFC at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
- New England at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
- Montreal at Orlando, 7:30 p.m.
- Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
- Minnesota at Austin, 8:30 p.m.
- San Jose at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
- Kansas City at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
- Real Salt Lake at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.
- Colorado at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 25
- Toronto at Cincinnati, 2:30 p.m.
- New York Red Bulls at Nashville, 5 p.m.
- Inter Miami at LA Galaxy, 8:30 p.m.
Four of those opening-weekend matches will be available on MLS Season Pass for free, regardless if you’re subscribed. They are LAFC-Seattle, D.C. United-New England, and Orlando City-Montreal on Saturday, and Cincinnati-Toronto on Sunday.
You won’t have to go an entire season without seeing an MLS game if you don’t have MLS Season Pass. Channels like Fox and FS1 will still broadcast some matches. That includes the season-opener between Seattle and LAFC on February 24 (you can watch it on Fox).
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