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Major League Soccer (MLS), the men's professional association football league with 29 teams across the United States and Canada (as of 2023) which launched in 1996, is widely considered the top level of men's soccer in the U.S.-Canada region. The league includes three Canadian teams – Toronto FC ("FC" of course standing for "Football Club"), CF Montréal (previously Montreal Impact), and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The 2023 MLS season came with some big changes in the league's media rights. Technology company Apple Inc. became the league's primary media partner globally, under a ten-year deal announced in June 2022 and running through the end of the 2032 season. This means that Apple's new MLS Season Pass service will be the only venue to access the majority of the league's games, and the only place viewers will be able to access every MLS game.
Some games, including some playoff games and the MLS Cup (the championship game) will continue to air on traditional TV channels available to most Canadian cable and satellite subscribers, including TSN, RDS, and the U.S.-based Fox broadcast network. Additionally, a version of MLS Season Pass will be available to commercial venues through traditional TV providers like Bell and Rogers (but only to these commercial venues), ensuring that restaurants, bars, and the like can still screen these games to their patrons.
How do I access MLS Season Pass?
MLS Season Pass is a streaming package which, for most end consumers, is available exclusively through the Apple TV app and website, and includes access to all MLS regular-season and playoff games. Except for subscribers in Mexico, the service also includes access all games from two annual competitions featuring teams from both MLS and Mexico's Liga MX: the Leagues Cup tournament, and the single-game Campeones Cup.
Although the Apple TV app is preloaded on the Apple TV set-top device and other Apple products like the iPhone and Mac, it's also available on a wide range of other smart TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles. Even on devices that don't natively support the app, including Android devices and Windows PCs, you can access the service directly through the Apple TV website.
If you are using an Apple device, note that in order to access MLS Season Pass through the Apple TV app, you will need to be running a recent version of your device's system software – version 16.2 or later of iOS (iPhone), iPadOS (iPad) and tvOS (Apple TV devices), and MacOS version 13 (Monterrey) or later (Macintosh computers).
Devices that do not support these versions – for example, Apple TV devices released before late 2015 – will not be able to access MLS Season Pass through the Apple TV app, though on some mobile devices you might still be able to access it through the Apple TV website linked above.
How much does MLS Season Pass cost?
In Canada, as of the 2023 season, MLS Season Pass costs $19.99 per month, or $129.00 for the full season, which will run from February 25 until at least November (the regular season is schedule to end on October 21, with playoffs to follow).
If you already subscribe to Apple TV+, which costs $8.99 per month or $89 per year, MLS Season Pass is available at a reduced price of $16.99 per month, or $99.00 for the season.
All prices in this article are in Canadian dollars before applicable sales taxes. Prices were last checked on February 18, 2023, and are subject to change without notice.
Do I need to subscribe to Apple TV+ to add MLS Season Pass?
No. As described in the previous section, a discount is available if you subscribe to both services, but while both services are accessible through the same apps, there is no requirement to subscribe to one to get the other. Nor is one service bundled inside the other, though some games are expected to be available on Apple TV+ at no additional charge, as we'll get into below.
Who will be calling the games on MLS Season Pass?
All game coverage available on the Apple TV app will be produced centrally by the league and the production companies it has contracted, with teams of announcers calling the games in English, Spanish, and in many cases French (for games featuring Canadian teams). If you prefer a team-specific broadcast, note that home team radio broadcasts will also be offered for all games for which such a feed is available.
What games can I watch without MLS Season Pass?
According to MLS's current schedule (as of February 18), the entire first weekend of action on February 25-26 will be available at no additional charge through the Apple TV app, as will selected additional games through at least March 18 (though the league says additional free-to-stream games will be announced later).
Note that, to access these free games, you will still likely need to sign in with an Apple ID. If you've ever bought anything on the iTunes Store or Apple App Store, you almost certainly have one already. If you do need to create an Apple ID, you may be required to enter a credit card number, but that card should not be charged unless you explicitly agree to a subscription.
Apple has also said that a selection of games will be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, without Season Pass.
Beyond that, a small number of games each will air on linear television alongside their availability on MLS Season Pass. In Canada, at least one game each week featuring a Canadian team – i.e. TFC, CF Montréal, or the Whitecaps – as well as additional all-U.S. matchups and playoff games including the MLS Cup, will air on the TSN and RDS cable sports channels and their respective direct streaming services; many of the specific games to be aired have already been identified on the MLS website.
In addition, the Fox broadcast network will air fifteen regular-season matches and the MLS Cup. That coverage should be available, without blackouts, on Canadian cable, satellite, and fibre-based TV services that carry a Fox affiliate.
It appears that game coverage on TSN, RDS, and Fox will generally use the networks' own announcers and graphics as an alternative to the MLS-produced commentary, however the game feed will be the same centrally-produced production.
Finally, the league has confirmed that a version of MLS Season Pass will be distributed to commercial establishments such as bars, meaning that even for games not available on regular TV or free streaming, you may be able to find a venue in your area to watch games of your local team.