7 SEP 2023

The “Messi Effect”: what impact did Messi’s arrival have on the MLS Season Pass?

In its latest report, Antenna analyzed what impact did Lionel Messi’s arrival to the Major League Soccer have on the MLS Season Pass just a few months after its exclusive launch with Apple.

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Last month, soccer superstar Lionel Messi made his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut with Inter Miami FC. The addition of Messi to an MLS team roster was big news globally, and exciting for soccer fans in the United States. In its latest report, Antenna analyzed what impact did Messi’s arrival have on the MLS Season Pass just a few months after its exclusive launch with Apple.

In detail, Antenna observed 110.000 sign-ups to MLS Season Pass on the day of Lionel Messi's debut with Inter Miami FC, representing a +280% increase from the number of sign-ups generated on the first day of the 2023 season.

The “Messi Effect” on MLS Season Pass throughout July was both unique and profound. Typically, Antenna sees a large portion of total sign-ups for a league-operated service come before or just at the start of a given season, with gradual additions over the course of the season largely driven by price promotions and occasional bumps driven by big games/events. MLS Season Pass only saw 15% of its cumulative sign-ups when the MLS Season opened in late February, while nearly half (46%) of all MLS Season Pass sign-ups to date took place in July on the back of Lionel Messi’s arrival to the league.

MLS Season Pass is uniquely distributed by Apple with incentivized pricing for users who also subscribe to Apple TV+. In analyzing Antenna’s MLS Season Pass sign-up data from February 1 (the first day the service was available to consumers) through July 31, Antenna found that: 48% were already Apple TV+ subscribers at the time of sign-up to MLS Season Pass, 37% did not have an Apple TV+ subscription and still do not, and 15% have become Apple TV+ subscribers (for example, subscribed or resubscribed at the same time or some time after signing-up to MLS Season Pass).

There is only one Messi, but direct-to-consumer sports streaming services are proliferating across the spectrum. Numerous Regional Sports Network (RSN) services are already in-market or are soon-to-launch, new sports add-on packages from existing SVOD services have been formally announced, and traditional sports media are actively plotting their streaming future, Antenna says. In addition to media properties who largely license the rights from individual leagues, the leagues themselves are also launching their own streaming services as streaming adoption and time spent surpasses cable.