Major League Soccer’s announced deal Tuesday to stream its games on Apple TV+ starting in 2023 means Minnesota United will have to move away from Callum Williams and Kyndra de St. Aubin as its local broadcast team at the end of this season.
The 10-year, $2.5 billion partnership will have all the league’s games available on a yet-to-be-named streaming service within Apple’s app. MLS takes over production of matches and Apple will partner with MLS on presentation, while clubs can provide their own pregame and postgame shows.
This means the six-year run of Williams and de St. Aubin as the primary voices on the Loons’ linear TV broadcasts will end. There remains a possibility De St. Aubin, and to a lesser extent, Williams, might be retained by MNUFC for in-house programming, events and other opportunities within the club.
MNUFC has worked with regional sports networks — FOX and then Ballys — since joining the league in 2017 and has had the option of over-the-air simulcasts for other viewers on top of that. De St. Aubin and Williams have been staples from the start of the MLS era.
MLS is still negotiating deals with linear national TV networks. ESPN has carried games since the league started in 1996 and FOX since 2014. Going forward, any linear TV games also will be on Apple.
MLS games on Apple will be available with no out-of-market blackouts or restrictions and a club’s season-ticket holders will receive a subscription to Apple TV as part of their package.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Apple is not paying a rights fee but rather a minimum guarantee against revenues that will be generated by subscriptions. Sources told the Associated Press the minimum guarantee is worth $250 million per year.
Loons manager Adrian Heath confirmed Tuesday that Romain Metanire’s left hamstring injury suffered in Saturday’s international friendly against SC Paderborn 07 of Germany’s 2. Bundisliga could cost the veteran fullback “months rather than weeks.”
One projection is Metanire might be out 6-10 weeks. If he is able to play by July 23, he would miss seven more MLS games. If it’s 10 weeks and he returns Aug. 20, the Madagascan would be sidelined 11 more matches.
Metanire, a 32-year-old who will be out of contract after this season, already has missed 13 of 14 MLS games in 2022 due to persistent problems with his right hamstring.
Winger Niko Hansen tweaked his groin against Paderborn and will likely be out a few weeks, Heath said. Left back Kemar Lawrence suffered a bruise to the leg against Paderborn and exited Saturday’s exhibition but did some drills at the start of training Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, striker Luis Amarilla flicked a ball at end the training session and “said he felt something on the outside of his knee,” Heath said. “Could be something or nothing.”
BOXALL KNOCKED OUT
Loons vice captain Michael Boxall and New Zealand lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in a FIFA intercontinental playoff Tuesday, meaning MNUFC is projected to have one representative in the World Cup in Qatar in November and December.
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair is expected to be on Canada’s roster as a backup.
The kickoff time of Sunday’s United game at New England Revolution has been moved from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. CT. … Attacker Bongi Hlongwane returned from international duty and did some light fitness work on the side Tuesday. MNUFC hopes St. Clair, Boxall and other internationals (Robin Lod and Kervin Arriaga) return to Minnesota healthy. Arriaga scored the second goal in Honduras’ 2-1 win over Canada on Monday. … Abu Danladi was absent from Tuesday’s session and didn’t play against Padelborn.