Leo Messi sparks a surge in Major League Soccer subscription sign-ups

Sep 5, 2023, 12:32 PM

Leo Messi has sparked a surge of sign-ups for Apple's MLS Season Pass package.
Mandatory Credit:	Ry...

Leo Messi has sparked a surge of sign-ups for Apple's MLS Season Pass package. Mandatory Credit: Ryan Sun/AP

New York (CNN) — Soccer superstar Leo Messi’s arrival in America has sparked a surge in ticket pricesapparel and now, streaming subscriptions.

MLS Season Pass, which is Apple’s streaming package that broadcasts the soccer matches, experienced 1,690% growth in sign-ups the day Messi first played for his new team Inter Miami, according to analytics firm Antenna. Newly released data shows that the streaming package had about 6,000 subscription sign-ups the day before, but that soared to 110,000 sign-ups on his July 21 debut in the Leagues Cup.

In a blog post Tuesday, Antenna said that the “Messi Effect” on a year-old streaming package was “unique and profound.” Ordinarily, Antenna said that sport-specific streaming services experience a large portion of sign-ups at the beginning of the season with “gradual additions” as the season progresses because of big games or pricing promotions.

But nearly half of MLS Season Pass sign-ups to date happened in July after Messi joined the league, showing the surge in interest that Messi brought to Major League Soccer.

Antenna’s research also found that 15% of MLS Season Pass subscribers have also become Apple TV+ subscribers, the home of Apple’s largely scripted programming that includes relative hits like “The Morning Show” and “Ted Lasso.” And nearly half of new subscribers already had Apple TV+ before adding MLS Season Pass, which currently costs an additional $12.99 per month, to their subscription.

Notably, Antenna’s data only includes US sign-ups, so it’s not fully capturing the global appeal the international superstar likely has.

Apple has remained mum on how many subscribers the service has. Apple SVP of services Eddy Cue recently said it’s doing “much better than forecasted” for the number of subscriptions and viewers. CEO Tim Cook echoed that on an August earnings call, saying that the “fact that Messi went to Inter Miami helped us out there a bit.”

Messi regularly promotes the MLS Season Pass on match days by adding a link for signups on his Instagram stories. That isn’t a surprise since his deal with Inter Miami includes a cut of the revenue from new subscribers of MLS Season Pass, according to multiple reports.

Last summer, Apple signed the MLS to a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal to stream matches internationally, becoming the tech company’s first major sports deal.

Messi’s signing “makes Apple’s media rights deal more valuable than it could have ever imagined,” David Rumsey, reporter for Front Office Sports, previously told CNN. He said that he’s “confident the company would have had to pay a higher fee than the $250 million annual deal it agreed to last summer if Messi was already in the league.”

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Leo Messi sparks a surge in Major League Soccer subscription sign-ups