Apple has just introduced a new product category with its Vision Pro augmented and virtual reality glasses, a $3,500-per-unit gadget that promises to revolutionize the consumption of digital content. However, technology has saved its particular ‘one more thing…’ (the expression used by Steve Jobs for the big announcements at the end of his presentations) for this Thursday. The signing of Leo Messi by Inter Miami will take him directly and exclusively to his Apple TV+ platform, which has the rights to the US MLS (Major League Soccer).
The manufacturer of the iPhone has become a key player in closing the Messi operation in time to deal with the dizzying offer from Saudi Arabia, which had decided to put more than 1,200 million euros on the Argentine table for three seasons to play for in Al-Hilal against Karim Benzema (Al-Ittihad) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr). It has also been decisive in the face of Joan Laporta’s proposal from FC Barcelona, who needed to close the sale of several players, lower their salary bill and obtain liquidity to accommodate the star of La Masía.
In an interview with the newspapers Sport and Mundo Deportivo, Messi himself explains the reasons why he ruled out both. “If it had been a matter of money, I would have gone to Arabia”, he explains about the first, while the player has discarded the second to avoid what happened two years ago when he was not registered in La Liga and had to leave Barça in August for Paris. “I was scared. I couldn’t wait for the same thing to happen to me,” he lamented.
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Inter Miami will pay around 120 million dollars net for three seasons to Messi, according to ‘The Athletic’, barely a tenth of the Saudi offer and in line with the Barcelona proposal. However, the contract goes much further because it contains the option to ‘equity’ (shares of that club or of another MLS franchise) for the player to become the owner.
The club is owned by the Mas Santos family (MasTec, Sintel), former footballer David Beckham (Manchester United, Real Madrid) and Ares Management, which is in turn a reference shareholder of Spanish teams such as Atlético de Madrid and Real Zaragoza. , in addition to the McLaren F1 team or the San Diego Padres baseball team. The fund landed at Inter in 2021 to give way to Masayoshi Son (Softbank) and his partner in the US, Marcelo Claure, CEO of the operator Sprint.
But the great economic novelty is the participation of the athlete in the benefits generated by his presence in the club and the American league. The formula has been fully topical since the premiere of ‘Air’, the film by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, which tells the story of how Michael Jordan built a revolutionary contract with Nike in the 80s, to bring the brand’s shoes to in exchange for a succulent fixed payment and, for the first time in the NBA, a percentage of sales.
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The film tells how the multinational went from playing a secondary role against rivals like Adidas and Converse to becoming the benchmark a few years later. Today it is still one of Nike’s main business areas with close to 5,000 million annually in revenue, although it already incorporates other active basketball stars. Adidas, which is in a bad place in the film, will give a percentage of the sales of Inter shirts to Messi, according to the exclusive in The Athletic.
In addition, Apple has been involved in the signing of Messi in two ways to finish tipping the balance in favor of Inter Miami. On the one hand, the company will give up a percentage of the MLS Season Pass subscription revenue on Apple TV+, which allows you to watch the games for just $13 a month. The technology company led by Tim Cook last year bought the broadcasting rights to the MLS soccer league for $2.5 billion until 2032.
Soccer is one of the star content of the Apple TV+ platform on the other side of the Atlantic to attract new subscribers, although its market share has not yet taken off and remains at the bottom of the market with barely 6%, far from Amazon (21 %), Netflix (20%), HBO (14%) and Hulu (11%), according to Justwatch estimates.
Technology is clear that ‘soccer’ and sports can be the differential way to gain a foothold in such a competitive market. The recent broadcast of the series Ted Lasso, with a cameo by Pep Guardiola included, will be joined by the imminent premiere on Apple TV+ of a documentary series on Leo Messi himself, which will focus on the career of the best player of all time during the last two decades and until his arrival in the American MLS.