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MLS Season Pass drops for 2023: An explainer

If you have questions about the new streaming service, we have some answers.

Courtesy of MLS

The new MLS Season Pass streaming service dropped on Wednesday on Apple TV. The new centralized spot for all MLS games for 2023 and years to come, it’s a big day for the league and the future of broadcasting and multimedia of MLS.

But you probably have some questions about it, that’s normal! Let’s try to cover some of the big ones here:

What is MLS Season Pass?

It’s the new home for all MLS games. And I mean (nearly) all games, from MLS regular season, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup (which LAFC will play in this year), playoffs and more.

The biggest change is there won’t be any blackouts, particularly local blackouts.

Please explain that part to me like I’m 10.

Previously, the streaming service for MLS was ESPN+. All national broadcasts on Fox networks and Univision networks did not ever end up archived on ESPN+. Furthermore, viewers couldn’t watch local games on ESPN+ live. So if you live in El Monte and tried to watch the LAFC game on ESPN+, you were in a blackout, you had to go to cable to find LAFC games in English or Spanish. In other words, you probably had to pay for cable, and if you wanted to watch other MLS games, you had to get ESPN+. But now, you don’t. You can watch all MLS games on MLS Season Pass on Apple, no blackouts.

Wow, that seems really good. How much is it?

MLS Season Pass is priced at $14.99/month or $99/season, unless you have Apple TV+, in which case the rates will be $12.99/month or $79/season. If you watch all the regular season and Leagues Cup games for one team, the rate comes out to about $2.50/game.

The good news, if you’re an MLS season ticket holder, is that everyone with a full season ticket package will get a free MLS Season Pass account for 2023. If you have multiple MLS watchers in your household, and you use family sharing on Apple (you can share accounts for Apple services with up to six Apple IDs), you can also share the service.

Let’s say I don’t have the money. Am I out of luck in watching MLS at all now?

No. It sounds as though roughly six games every week will be available outside the paywall, for free, on Apple TV. They may not always play the games you want to watch, but there will be games to watch for free. Plus, Fox and Univision will still air a handful of games in 2023 (those games will also air simultaneously on MLS Season Pass, remember, no blackouts).

Is the service only MLS games?

No. MLS is promising a lot of additional content: MLS Next Pro (reserve team) games, even some MLS Next (academy) games, club features, interviews and features with players, even content about supporters and league history.

There is a game archive dating back to 2019 as well, so almost LAFC’s entire history to date, and all games moving forward are supposed to be immediately archived and available on demand. So if you want to watch a sweet win over and over again, you can.

Plus, MLS is promising beefed up programming around games: pregame and postgame shows, as well as a weekly five-hour whiparound show on Saturday evenings, when the bulk of the games will take place.

So all of LAFC’s games will be on MLS Season Pass?

Not all of them. Concacaf Champions League will be on network/cable TV still, and it’s unclear where U.S. Open Cup games will be aired in 2023. If LAFC reached the final in both competitions, it looks like it would be a maximum of 13 games not on MLS Season Pass (and it could be as few as three, if they crash out of both in their first round). In contrast, MLS Season Pass will be 34 MLS regular season games, plus at least one Leagues Cup game (could be up to five this year for LAFC), plus one Campeones Cup game, plus any playoff games. So a minimum 36 games on MLS Season Pass for LAFC in 2023, and chances are it could be more.

Who’s calling the games? Will they all be in English?

Former LAFC play-by-play announcer Max Bretos has been hired and I bet he’ll be calling at least some black-and-gold games, but I’m not sure if there will be dedicated announcers assigned to a given team permanently. My hunch is the announcers will be placed in regional pools and then rotate around the various teams in a region, but we’ll see there.

As for language, all games will be offered in English and Spanish, and all games involving Canadian teams will also be available in French. So there are some options among the most popular languages in this league.

Is this streaming thing only for the United States? What if I live abroad?

Chances are you can also subscribe to MLS Season Pass. The service is rolling out to over 100 countries, and it’s the same deal: No blackouts. So that cuts down on having to hunt for listings and watching in the middle of the night (unless you want to, of course) and uncovering obscure channels to watch MLS abroad.

Ok, I’m in. How do I sign up?

Head on over to this landing page and you can get started.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.