Lionel Messi has hit the ground running in Major League Soccer, and he’s boosting Apple’s bottom line in the process. Tickets for Inter Miami games have soared in price since Messi, the greatest soccer player of his generation and arguably the best of all time, joined the team several weeks ago. On top of that, subscriptions to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass have more than doubled since the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star started plying his trade in the US in July.
That’s according to Jorge Mas, one of Inter Miami’s owners. Mas added that “Spanish language viewership on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV has surpassed over 50 percent for Messi matches and continues to rise,” underscoring the player’s popularity in the Spanish-speaking community. Apple CEO Tim Cook retweeted Mas’ comments, indicating that Mas’ claims are genuine (Apple’s PR team has been drawing attention to the tweet as well).
The company hasn’t disclosed how many subscribers the service has, though reports in July suggested the number was nearing 1 million before Messi’s arrival. In any case, Apple is evidently pleased by Messi’s impact on MLS Season Pass.
“For MLS, we could not be happier with how the partnership is going,” Cook said on an Apple earnings call last week. “It’s clearly in the early days, but we are beating our expectation in terms of subscribers, and the fact that Messi went to Inter Miami helped us out there a bit. And so we’re very excited about it.”
Apple, which dropped the price of the subscription from $99 to $49 for the second half of the season, is said to be paying $250 million a year for the MLS broadcast rights. Messi is reportedly taking a cut of revenue from new MLS Season Pass subscribers as part of his Inter Miami contract.
Messi has hit the ground running in Miami. He has scored seven goals and contributed three assists in four games, all of which Miami won. Before he joined the team, Miami was on an 11-game winless streak.
Although he’s 36, an age when most soccer players are winding down their careers, Messi is still going strong. He led Argentina to the biggest prize in the game, the World Cup, last December and helped PSG win back-to-back French league championships before moving to the US. As a result, Messi is the overwhelming favorite to win the Ballon d’Or, arguably the most prestigious individual award in soccer, for a record-extending eighth time.
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