Big changes have come to MLS broadcasts and streaming with the start of the 2023 regular season.
In prior years, MLS’s league fixtures were primarily spread across local Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), with select matches picked for national broadcast on either ESPN, Fox, or TelevisaUnivision channels each week. Games that weren’t selected for national broadcasts were available for out-of-market fans on ESPN+, but this arrangement “blacked-out” matches for local fans without specific cable or satellite subscriptions.
In Colorado’s case, MLS matches that aired on Altitude Sports Network could not be streamed on ESPN+ in Altitude’s broadcast territory—Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Northern New Mexico, Northeast Nevada, and Southwest South Dakota. While Altitude remained accessible for fans who subscribe to DirecTV and DirecTV NOW, the channel hasn’t been available to Dish and Comcast customers due to a multi-year dispute between the parties over carrier fees.
Don’t Block My Altitude began the week Rapids head coach Robin Fraser was hired in August 2019.
This wasn’t a situation unique to Altitude in Colorado. When Fox sold off their RSN empire to Bally Sports, many local channels that carried MLS and other pro sports teams disappeared from certain cable carriers in key markets.
This headache is going away for fans of MLS clubs in 2023. Here’s how fans will be able to watch the Colorado Rapids or any other MLS team this season.
How Do I Watch MLS and Leagues Cup?
Fans now have a one-stop location to watch all MLS matches through Apple TV by purchasing the MLS Season Pass. MLS Season Pass is available in over 100 countries and includes every MLS regular season and playoff match, including MLS Cup. Leagues Cup fixtures will also be available on the platform globally, except in Mexico.
All matches on the MLS Season Pass will be broadcast in English and Spanish. Games involving any of the three Canadian MLS teams will offer French commentary. The league also plans to add Portuguese commentary in the future. The MLS Season Pass will also include an NFL Redzone-style whiparound show, so subscribers can follow the action in multiple matches at once.
MLS Season Pass will also allow viewers to substitute in the team’s local radio broadcast. The setup currently just includes home radio commentary, but the league plans on expanding to include the away radio crew as an option for all matches in the future. Fans who would prefer to listen to Connor Cape and company on Altitude Sports Radio over the neutral Apple TV crew can do so for all matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. A similar system has been utilized with MLB.TV in the past, and they’ve done a solid job of syncing up the video feed with the radio audio.
A select number of matches during the season will be available for simulcast on Fox Sports cable and satellite networks in the United States. These games will air on either Fox, Fox Sports 1, or Fox Deportes (Spanish), but will still be available for all MLS Season Pass subscribers without blackouts on Apple TV.
Roughly 40% of MLS matches during the regular season will be available on Apple TV for free, without purchase of the MLS Season Pass or Apple TV+. Rapids fans hesitant about purchasing a subscription will be able to watch a selection of the team’s matches without paying. Colorado’s official website will identify matches selected for the free tier as the season continues—three of the club’s first four 2023 fixtures are slated for free streaming.
The MLS Season Pass will be available on through the Apple TV app on the following devices:
- Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV (4K, HD, and 3rd gen);
- Smart TV operating systems like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, and VIZIO;
- Gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox platforms;
- Streaming boxes like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and others;
- Android TV systems like the NVIDIA Shield TV and Google TV devices; and
- Set-top cable boxes from Comcast Xfinity and other providers.
How Do I Watch MLS Season Pass on Android?
The Apple TV app is currently not available on Android, Windows PC, and Chrome OS devices, but fans using those devices can access the service by visiting tv.apple.com in their web browser of choice. Apple reportedly plans on making the Apple TV app available on Android in the future.
How Much Does MLS Season Pass Cost?
The full MLS Season Pass will cost $14.99 per month or $99 for the full year. This is the base price of the service, and fans don’t need to purchase an Apple TV+ subscription or the Apple TV 4K set-top box to purchase MLS Season Pass. Fans can purchase the season pass through the Apple TV app or website.
Apple TV+ subscribers will be able to buy the service for the discounted rate of $12.99 per month or $79 per year.
Fans who have full season ticket memberships with an MLS club will be given access to the service for free. Those who have yet to receive their unique access link to the platform should contact their ticket representative. This Season Pass redemption process may differ for members who purchased their tickets through Centennial 38 or another supporter’s group. Those users should contact their supporter’s group directly for instructions.
In 2023, T-Mobile customers will also be available to access MLS Season Pass for free by downloading the T-Mobile Tuesdays app and signing in with their phone number to redeem the benefit.
Why Is MLS Season Pass Not On My Apple TV app?
Users must update to the latest firmware on iOS devices in order to purchase and watch MLS Season Pass. As of February 2023, users should update to iOS 16.2 to watch MLS matches.
How Do I Watch the U.S. Open Cup?
In addition to MLS and Leagues Cup, the Colorado Rapids and other MLS squads will compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this year. U.S. Soccer owns the broadcast rights to the entire U.S. Open Cup tournament independently of MLS and sold those rights to Turner for the 2023 season.
On March 8, 2023, U.S. Soccer announced that “featured matches from the first three rounds of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will be streamed live for free to a worldwide audience on the Bleacher Report (B/R) app and B/R Football YouTube channel.”
Most MLS teams, including the Rapids, will begin play in the Third Round of the competition. According to the announcement, the matches from that round slated for broadcast on B/R platforms will be announced at a later date. The Federation also added that coverage plans for the Round of 32—which is when the eight seeded MLS teams join the fray—are still yet to be determined.
How Do I Watch the Concacaf Champions League?
In addition to the MLS Regular Season, the U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup, MLS clubs can qualify every year for participation in the Concacaf Champions League. The exclusive English language rights for the tournament are currently held by Fox, which usually airs matches on either Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2. Spanish language rights in the United States for the 2023, 2024, and 2025 editions of the Concacaf Champions League are held by TelevisaUnivision, and games are typically broadcasted on TUDN or Univision.
Can I Watch MLS Season Pass at a Bar?
DirecTV for Business has announced that MLS Season Pass has been added to their sports package, meaning that restaurants, bars, and hotels can show MLS or Leagues Cup matches. Fans can download the DirecTV Sports Bar Finder app in the App Store to locate venues that pay for DirecTV’s business service. MLS matches will be available on business channels 9475-9490.
The Rapids open the 2023 season at Seattle Sounders on Sunday, February 26 at 6 PM MT. The match will be shown on Apple TV for free and FS1. Marko Rogondino and Heath Pearce will have the commentary on Apple.