Enlarge / Major League Soccer is coming to Apple TV.

Today, Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that the Apple TV app will feature streaming video of every MLS game for the next 10 years.

Apple says viewers “around the world” can “watch all MLS, League Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches in one place, without any local broadcast cuts or the need for a traditional pay-TV package”.

This will all be part of a “new MLS streaming service” that will be available in early 2023, with games offered through 2032. It will offer both live and on-demand video.

A blog post on Apple’s Newsroom site seems to suggest that while the service will be exclusive to the Apple TV app, it will be priced separately from Apple’s Apple TV+ streaming service. That said, a limited number of MLS and League Cup games will be available for free to Apple TV+ subscribers.

The post also notes that purchasers of MLS full-season ticket packages will have free access to the entire MLS streaming service.

When you log into the streams, you’ll have a choice of English or Spanish announcers for all matches, and there will also be a French option for any matches that include Canadian teams.

Neither Apple nor MLS has announced a more specific launch date for the service, and the price remains a mystery.

The Apple TV app is obviously available on Apple devices like Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. But it’s also made its way to other hardware, including PlayStation, Xbox, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and several major smart TV brands. This isn’t Apple’s first foray into sports streaming. It’s been part of Apple TV’s strategy in one way or another for some time, but the company stepped up its plans with regular Friday night streams of Major League Baseball (MLB) earlier this year.

Why this makes ESPN and regional sports networks nervous

Major League Soccer lives just outside the popular and rarefied sports district occupied by the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and college football and basketball. But even with MLS’s relative lack of popularity compared to other leagues, this announcement from Apple is a pretty big deal.

Live sports are by far the biggest reason why millions of people have yet to cut the cord, severing their ties with cable and satellite TV providers. It’s simply because the easiest way to follow your hometown team – outside of the NFL, which streams all of its games for free in local markets – is to subscribe to your local cable company or provider. of satellites. These are the people who carry the regional sports network who have the rights to broadcast your local teams. For a Chicagoan who wants to catch every Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, White Sox, Fire and Red Stars game, their only choices for following the action are Marquee Sports Network and NBC Sports Chicago, both of which require cable or satellite. . TV subscription.

For the first time, an MLS fan can watch all of their favorite team’s games without a cable subscription. It’s huge because it’s the first time this is the case for any major American sports league. Of course, both MLB and NBA offer their own over-the-top streaming services, but there are significant restrictions. You can’t watch your home team on NBA League Pass; you need a cable subscription for that. You can’t watch domestic broadcasts on NBA League Pass; you need a cable subscription for games that aren’t live. Etc.

Apple TV is changing that model with today’s announcement. If you’re a die-hard Columbus fan and want to watch your beloved crew anywhere, anytime, you have a new option that doesn’t involve Comcast or DirecTV. And if you hung on to cable just so you could watch the crew, it’ll cost you a lot less.

Apple and MLS have done something remarkable here. With the NFL currently negotiating with a handful of streaming services for its out-of-market Sunday ticketing service and the NCAA’s Big Ten conference selling its next media rights package, the next big deal could end up being completely cut the cable. . According to John Ourand at Sports Business Journal, Apple is paying about $2.5 billion over the 10-year term of this deal. That’s big change for Apple…and Amazon…and Google.

Today’s announcement heralds the beginning of the end for the traditional way sports in the United States are packaged for broadcast. When live, out-of-market sports are no longer the only ones found on cable, cord-cutting will accelerate, much to the dismay of regional sports networks — and even ESPN.