Apple, Major League Soccer Ink 10-Year Streaming Deal, Beginning in 2023

Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced a 10-year deal making the Apple TV app the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023.
 
The partnership is a historic first for a professional sports league, and will allow fans around the world to watch all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches — without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay-TV bundle.
 
Tech rival Amazon, the exclusive distributor of “NFL Thursday Night Football,” has a separate streaming deal with MLS club Seattle Sounders.
 
In addition, Apple TV will provide fans a new weekly live match whip-around show so they never miss an exciting goal or save, and also game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming. This live and on-demand MLS content will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes views of the players and clubs.
 
 
A broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including some of the biggest matchups, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free.
 
“For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” Eddy Cue, SVP of Apple Services, said in a statement.
 
MLS commissioner Don Garber contends Apple is the “perfect partner” to further accelerate the growth of MLS in the U.S. and abroad.
 
“It’ll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or casual viewer,” Garber said.
 
At launch, all MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French. Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage for fans to easily follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights right in the News app.
 
Major League Soccer is the fastest-growing soccer league in the world, more than doubling in size to 29 clubs over the last 15 years. The momentum will continue as soccer grows throughout North America on the road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With players representing 82 countries, MLS has the most global player pool in all sports, and its fan base is one of the youngest, most diverse audiences in North American sports.
 

Amazon Freevee Now Streaming on Apple Devices

Amazon’s ad-supported streaming video service Freevee is now available on the Apple platform, including Apple TV, iPad and iPhone. The erstwhile IMDb TV earlier this month made itself available on the Roku platform, including Fire TV.

The Freevee app is also available on Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox video game consoles, on the Vizio SmartCast, LG WebOS and Vizio SmartCast operating systems for internet-connected TVs.

On May 2, Freevee announced a slate of premium originals, with multiple pickups of scripted and unscripted content. The ad-supported streaming service greenlighted a new cooking competition series called “America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation,” the coming-of-age drama “Beyond Black Beauty,” the family competition series “Play-Doh Squished,” and the music documentary Post Malone: Runaway.

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Freevee also picked up a second season of “Bosch: Legacy” and a third and fourth season of Uninterrupted’s “Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers.”

Apple Reports Record Quarterly Services Revenue

Apple’s foray into subscription-based businesses continues to resonate on the bottom line. The tech giant April 28 reported record services revenue of $19.8 billion for the second quarter (ended March 26). That compared with revenue of $16.9 billion during the previous-year period. Overall, Apple posted a March quarter revenue record of $97.3 billion, up 9% year over year.

Services revenue includes sales of movies and TV shows on iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others.

“We are delighted to see the strong customer response to our new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
 
CFO Luca Maestri said Apple reported record quarterly revenue for iPhone, Mac, and Wearables, Home and Accessories.
 
 
“Continued strong customer demand for our products helped us achieve an all-time high for our installed base of active devices,” said Maestri. “Our strong operating performance generated over $28 billion in operating cash flow allowed us to return nearly $27 billion to our shareholders during the quarter.”

Maya Rudolph Comedy Series ‘Loot’ to Bow on Apple TV+ June 24

The Maya Rudolph comedy series “Loot” will premiere on Apple TV+ June 24.

Starring and executive produced by Emmy Award winner Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live,” “Bridesmaids”) and from Emmy Award-winning creators Alan Yang (“Little America,” “Master of None”) and Matt Hubbard (“30 Rock,” “Forever”), the 10-episode workplace comedy will debut globally with the first three episodes followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.

In addition to Rudolph, the “Loot” ensemble cast is led by stars Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (“Pose”), Ron Funches (“Undateable”), Nat Faxon (“Married”) and Joel Kim Booster (‘Sunnyside”).

In “Loot,” billionaire Molly Novak (Rudolph) has a dream life, complete with private jets, a sprawling mansion, and a gigayacht — anything her heart desires. But when her husband of 20 years betrays her, she spirals publicly, becoming fuel for tabloid fodder. She’s reaching rock bottom when she learns, to her surprise, that she has a charity foundation run by the no-nonsense Sofia Salinas (Rodriguez), who pleads with Molly to stop generating bad press. With her devoted assistant Nicholas (Kim Booster) by her side, and with the help of Sofia and team — including mild-mannered accountant Arthur (Faxon) and her optimistic, pop-culture-loving cousin Howard (Funches) — Molly embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Giving back to others might be what she needs to get back to herself.

The project marks the second collaboration between Apple TV+ and Yang following the the three-time Independent Spirit Award, BAFTA and NAACP Image Award nominated anthology series “Little America.”

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Apple TV+ to Bow Thriller Series ‘Constellation’

Apple TV+ has greenlighted “Constellation,” a new conspiracy-based psychological thriller drama series.

The series stars Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, You Won’t Be Alone) and Emmy Award nominee Jonathan Banks (Mudbound, “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”).

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“Constellation” will star Rapace as Jo, a woman who returns to Earth after a disaster in space — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

Apple TV+ Picks Up Sci-Fi Series ‘Dark Matter’

Apple TV+ has landed “Dark Matter,” a nine-episode series based on the science-fiction novel by Blake Crouch.

Starring Joel Edgerton (“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Boy Erased, Loving), who also serves as executive producer, the series will be written and showrun by Crouch and will be produced for Apple TV+ by Sony Pictures Television.

“Dark Matter” is a story about the road not taken. The series follows Jason Dessen (Edgerton), a physicist, professor and family man who — one night while walking home on the streets of Chicago — is abducted into an alternate version of his life. Wonder quickly turns to nightmare when he tries to return to his reality amid the multiverse of lives he could have lived. In this labyrinth of mind-bending realities, he embarks on a harrowing journey to get back to his true family and save them from the most terrifying, unbeatable foe imaginable: himself.

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Apple Unveils Trailer for ‘The Snoopy Show’ Season Two, Streaming March 11

Apple has released the official trailer for season two of “The Snoopy Show,” which is set to premiere with all six episodes March 11 on Apple TV+.

Two new “Peanuts” specials are also coming soon to Apple TV+, including It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, a new original special in celebration of Earth Day featuring an original song by American singer-songwriter Ben Folds, premiering on April 15; and To Mom (and Dad), With Love, launching on May 6, in time for Mother’s Day. 

Also coming soon to Apple TV+ through its partnership with WildBrain are classic Peanuts titles, including Charlie Brown’s All Stars!; You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown; She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown; It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown; and Snoopy’s Reunion. The anthology collection will make its streaming debut March 4.

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Reports: Amazon, Apple Mulling Peloton Acquisition for Streaming Video Fitness

Amazon and Apple reportedly are among a group of possible suitors for Peloton Interactive, whose stationary exercise bikes dominated the market during the pandemic but has seen a slowdown in sales since.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon, along with Nike, has been kicking Peloton’s tires as the company’s stock tumbled in recent weeks below its 2019 initial price offering at $29 per share. An activist stockholder has called for the manufacturer to be sold.

Peloton, which generates the bulk of its recurring revenue through subscription-based on-demand fitness videos streamed to users’ bikes, is working with its own advisors, according to the Journal. The company, which was once valued at $50 billion, is now hovering around $8 billion in market capitalization.

Specifically, observers contend Peloton would be a good fit for Amazon and its Prime Video streaming service. Not only could the streaming platform deliver exercise video to Peloton users, it could also deliver movies and TV shows to the 1.4 million branded stationary bike owners. Amazon last year acquired the MGM movie studio, with the $8.45 billion transaction expected to close this year.

Amazon has made no official comment on the scuttlebutt.

But Daniel Ives, analyst with Wedbush Securities, has, arguing Peloton would also be a great fit for Apple or Disney as both companies are heavily invested in streaming video.

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“For Cook & Co, acquiring Peloton would be a major strategic coup and catalyze the company’s aggressive health and fitness initiatives over the coming years,” Ives wrote in a Feb. 7 note. “With 2.8 million paid subscriptions today and a very strong/unique competitive moat, Apple TV+ acquiring Peloton would be both an offensive and defensive acquisition in our opinion.”

Apple’s SVOD subscriber base pales in comparison to Netflix’s 220 million, Amazon’s 175 million, Disney’s 111 million — or even NBCUniversal’s 9 million paid Peacock subs.

The analyst reiterated that other than the $3 billion acquisition of Beats wireless stereo headphones in 2014, Apple has been reluctant to enter into the merger & acquisition market. A Peloton deal could cost from $12 billion to $15 billion, according to Ives.

“Apple through its Fitness+ subscription service and Apple Watch strategy, would be able to leverage the Peloton services and flywheel to significantly bulk up its healthcare initiatives, which have been a key strategic linchpin for Cook.”

Apple has made no public comment on the situation.

Apple Ups Q1 Services Revenue 24% to Record $19.5 Billion

Apple Jan. 27 reported first-quarter (ended Dec. 25, 2021) services revenue of $19.5 billion, up 24% from revenue of $15.8 billion during the previous-year period. Services revenue includes sales of movies and TV shows on iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant posted an all-time quarterly revenue record of $123.9 billion, up 11% year-over-year from $111.6 billion.
 
“This quarter’s record results were made possible by our most innovative lineup of products and services ever,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We are gratified to see the response from customers around the world at a time when staying connected has never been more important.”
 
 

Meanwhile, iPhone sales increased to $71.6 billion, compared with $65.5 billion in the previous-year quarter — underscoring the appeal of the new iPhone 13 model.

Mac sales increased 25% to $10.8 billion, from $8.6 billion a year ago. Apple iPad revenue fell almost 15% to $7.2 billion, from $8.4 billion. Wearables and home accessories revenue rose 14% to $14.7 billion, from $12.9 billion.

Apple Services Q4 Revenue Up 26% to $18.3 Billion

Apple Oct. 28 reported fourth-quarter (ended Sept. 25) services revenue of $18.3 billion, up 26% from revenue of $14.5 billion during the previous-year period. Services revenue includes sales of movies and TV shows on iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others.

For the fiscal year, services revenue spiked 27% to $68.4 billion, from $53.7 billion a year ago. Quarterly margins in the segment remained strong, generating almost 70% in gross income in the quarter, up slightly from 67% in the previous-year quarter.

Meanwhile, iPhone sales skyrocketed 47% to $38.8 billion, compared with $26.4 billion in the previous-year quarter — underscoring the appeal of the new iPhone 13 model. For the fiscal year, iPhone revenue reached $192 billion, up more than 39% from $137.7 billion a year ago.

Mac sales increased 2% to $9.2 billion, from $9 billion a year ago. Apple iPad revenue increased 21.5% to $8.2 billion, from $6.8 billion. Wearables and home accessories revenue rose 11.5% to $8.7 billion, from $7.8 billion.

The record September revenue of $83.4 billion, up 29% year-over-year, prompted CEO Tim Cook to look beyond the finances, focusing on Apple’s loftier goals.

“We are infusing our values into everything we make — moving closer to our 2030 goal of being carbon neutral up and down our supply chain and across the lifecycle of our products, and ever advancing our mission to build a more equitable future,” Cook said in a statement.