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Apple (AAPL) is Betting on Live Sports

Earlier this month we noted Apple’s streaming retention problem and the company’s plan to bolster its subscriber base with live sports (baseball). 

Well, it didn’t take long for the tech giant to make its next move. 

Apple recently announced a 10-year exclusive streaming deal with the MLS. 

The English Premier League is, of course, the jewel in the soccer crown, but just how big is the MLS? 

In Europe MLS games boast an average in person attendance of +22,000, but the league still has plenty of room for audience expansion in the U.S. 

And consumers…ahem, gamblers, are taking notice. 

Legal soccer betting is available in most states today, and consumer mentions of betting on soccer have been rising for a while, currently trending +66% higher YoY.
Soccer viewership figures in the US are rising too… 

The 2021 MLS Cup on ABC averaged 1.14 million viewers, peaking at 1.6 million viewers, up from the average of 1.07 million viewers for the 2020 game and up from the average of 825,000 viewers for the 2019 game. 

This is a promising opportunity for Apple as a streaming provider. 

Because we already know the Apple TV+ MLB partnership is moving the viewership needle in a big way. 

Check out the spikes below…each corresponds to a baseball event.
The MLS deal could be another boost and improve the retention problem that we previously spoke about. 

Here's what we're watching

Streaming Live Sports is in Demand
Consumer mentions of sports streaming has steadily grown over the last few years and is a major decision factor for those considering cutting the cable cord. 

The current trend is on course to close the current period at +18% QoQ and +38% YoY, its highest level since fall 2016.  

In July 2021, it was reported that “79% of global sports fans are ready to go streaming only,” while 45% were currently paying for streaming services. 

We see that continuing to grow, with Apple seemingly ready to be at the forefront.  

New Subscriptions & Cancellations

While consumer mentions of signing up to Apple TV+ are rising, so are Apple TV+ cancelation mentions. 

Apple TV+ doesn’t report subscriber data, but mentions suggest elevated customer churn for the subscription service. 

Both metrics are currently at highs.

Will additional streaming opportunities help to keep subscribers on board?

Keep an eye out for a decline in cancellation mentions over the next 6-12 months (Apple’s MLS deal begins in 2023) to determine if the live sports tactic is effective.

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