This week on TechHive: Apple’s Major League Soccer deal

“Every match. No blackouts.”

That’s the tagline for a landmark, 10-year deal between Apple and Major League Soccer. Starting in 2023, the two companies will build a new subscription service from the ground up, sold separately from Apple TV+ but available through the Apple TV app. It’s the first time a sports league will make all its games available through a single streaming service, and boy, is that refreshing.

In recent years, watching live sports has become an aggressively user-hostile experience, with live games scattered across an array of broadcast networks, cable channels, and streaming services. Even if all you care about is one team, keeping up has become expensive and confusing.

Apple’s deal with MLS is a much-needed moment of clarity, and a reminder of how sports streaming can work when it doesn’t have all of cable TV’s baggage. Read the full column on TechHive.

Weekly rewind

Apple TV freebies: As part of the aforementioned MLS deal, Apple will also offer some soccer matches for free through the Apple TV app, along with a broader selection for Apple TV+ subscribers. The company has also been streaming Friday Night Baseball games for free, and is now streaming the first season of For All Mankind for free as well.

Maybe I shouldn’t read too much into this, but I wonder if this is the start of a more robust free tier for the Apple TV app. Apple does monetize those baseball games through ads, after all, and getting people hooked on earlier seasons of its shows makes sense a way to sell more Apple TV+ subscriptions. I won’t be surprised if we see more of this in the future.

A Fire TV interface update: Amazon is updating the Fire TV menu system to make some features easier to find. Most notably, the “My Stuff” menu now has its own button in the top menu bar, so you can quickly get to your watchlist and purchases. That menu bar also has new icons, which help clarify where the search function resides. (It’s inside the “Find” menu.)

Sadly, the update doesn’t address the Fire TV’s biggest annoyance: You still have to scroll through a banner ad or a list of sponsored apps just to access your recent app list. Consider it a hidden cost of Amazon’s otherwise-cheap streaming devices.

More sports unbundling: When ESPN announced a seven-year deal with the NHL last year, it mentioned having “the ability” to simulcast the Stanley Cup finals on ESPN+, but didn’t make any promises. Now that the final is underway, ESPN is exercising that option, with all games airing across both ABC and ESPN+.

As my pal Roy Delgado notes, it’s another big step in the unbundling of live sports, as both the MLB and NHL have tied their respective championship series to cable and broadcast networks. Next year’s Stanley Cup rights go to Turner, which has the ability to simulcast on HBO Max. It’ll be interesting to see what happens then.

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More catch-up

Save more money

Verizon has just cut the price of all its home internet plans to $25 per month if you also sign up for an unlimited mobile data plan. This bundle deal was previously reserved for Verizon’s 5G home internet service, but is now available to Fios and LTE internet customers as well. (If you don’t bundle wireless service, the price for home internet alone is $50 per month.)

Existing customers must enroll in Verizon’s Mobile + Home discount program to get the extra savings. You can do that through the “Savings Center” in the My Verizon app or on the My Verizon online portal. (You didn’t think Verizon would just automatically reduce your bill, did you?)

Other notable deals:

  • The Apple TV 4K is on sale for $130, down from $180.
  • The Roku Ultra with Voice Remote Pro drops to $80, from $100.
  • If you missed it last week, the latest free Paramount+ code is SOUTHPARK. (More details on redeeming these codes here.)

One more thing: With Amazon Prime Day coming up on July 12 and 13, you might want to cancel any active Prime Video Channels subscriptions you have in case Amazon brings back any of its usual $1 per month promo deals. You can manage your Prime Video Channels subscriptions through this link.

Thanks for reading!

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Until next week,

Previously: Improving the Apple TV

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