Although the long rumored arrival of NFL Sunday Ticket to Apple TV+ never materialized, Apple has still made inroads into the world of streaming live sports with its MLS Season Pass, and Friday Night Baseball products. We all know that Apple has an excellent lineup of on-demand TV and movie titles, but is an Apple TV+ subscription worth it for sports fans in 2023? Let’s dig in to find out.
Although Apple just inked a multi year deal to carry MLS soccer games on its platform, you don’t need an Apple TV+ subscription to watch MLS season pass, so the sole reason to add an Apple TV+ membership as a sports fan is to watch Friday Night Baseball, Apple’s MLB regular season doubleheader.
Streaming exclusive games have been on the rise in recent seasons, with MLB selling rights to Apple and Peacock for their own branded games, and Amazon taking over Friday Night Yankee broadcasts from the YES Network. Long time baseball fans tend to hate these games, and become quite frustrated when they learn that the regular cable and streaming packages they pay for don’t have the rights to carry their favorite baseball team’s entire regular season.
You don’t need Apple TV+ to watch MLS Season Pass
Apple paid 2.5 billion for the rights to carry every MLS soccer game, regular season through the playoffs, for a decade. The new Apple MLS lineup is called MLS Season Pass.
Unlike Friday Night Baseball, which requires an Apple TV+ subscription to view, MLS Season Pass can be purchased à la carte through the Apple TV app. According to Apple’s press release announcing the deal, Apple TV+ subscribers will be eligible for a discount on MLS Season Pass.
Starting February 1, fans can subscribe to MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app for $14.99 per month during the season or $99 per season, and Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up at a special price of $12.99 per month and $79 per season.Apple Newsroom
Apple TV+ vs. Apple TV app vs. Apple TV
Like with Google, the sheer number of Apple products can be confusing. Here is the thing to remember: just because Apple TV+ doesn’t carry much in the way of live sports, it doesn’t mean you can’t watch plenty of sports on an Apple TV or on the Apple TV app.
Still confused? Let me explain.
Many sports fans will be left confused by the distinctions between the Apple TV app, Apple TV+, and Apple TVs (the little boxes that connect to TVs via USB cables).
Sports fans can watch games on all three options, but have far more of a selection on the app and the TV, so let’s clarify the differences.
- Apple TV+ – Apple’s streaming subscription service for premium content. This is where Friday Night Baseball, and most of Apple’s MLB coverage lives. Just as ESPN+ is nested within the ESPN app, Apple TV+ is found within the Apple TV app.
- Apple TV app – Found on all iOS devices, the Apple TV app is home to a wide selection of programming options accessible with “TV Everywhere.” You can use third party accounts, such as with Hulu + Live TV, to stream content on the Apple TV app.
- Apple TV – Apple TV is a piece of hardware that runs a wide array of apps on the user’s smart TV. You can run the Apple TV app on an Apple TV, or you can download and use other apps like fuboTV, DIRECTV STREAM, YouTube TV, or HBO Max, to name a few. The idea with an Apple TV is to enhance the streaming experience on a smart TV, particularly if it is a little out of date.
No, Apple does not have the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2023-24 NFL season. Although there were plenty of rumors connecting Apple to the NFL’s out-of-market TV inventory, Apple was outmaneuvered by YouTube TV for the rights to Sunday Ticket after DIRECTV ‘s deal expired. The Google owned streaming service ended up securing the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2023-24 season.