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MLS Season Pass tops out at 1080p — here’s why that’s probably OK

There are fewer than two weeks to go before the start of the 2023 MLS season, and we’re starting to get more technical details on the launch of MLS Season Pass, the every-game-on-any-device subscription that’s exclusive to Apple TV.

Chief among those details is that 4K resolution is nary to be seen. That’s not necessarily surprising given that nobody actually streams sports in full 4K for any number of reasons, cost above all. But it’s also worth questioning given that Apple is the company tying all of this together, and Apple (generally speaking) is synonymous with quality.

MLS Season Pass.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

And as we’ve previously discussed, a good 1080p feed is better than a 4K feed compressed within an inch of its life. In any case, we’ll just have to wait and see what we actually get come February 25. And so long as everything’s in 60 frames per second, it should be fine.

That said, we do have a little bit of concern, given that if you watch the highlights replay from the 2022 MLS Cup championship game — we won’t spoil it, but the match was incredible, particularly the last 25 minutes — you’ll be sorely disappointed at the available resolution.

Another little technical nugget is that you can expect 5.1 surround sound. You’ll need audio equipment that supports all those channels, of course (the 5.1 stands for five speakers — left, right, and center in front of you, and two behind, along with a subwoofer), but it should be good for every game. That’s almost table stakes these days — other streaming services support 5.1 surround sound, too. But it’s a nice addition especially when it’s done right, with crowd noise seemingly coming from all around you. Let’s just hope the commentator’s audio doesn’t get lost in the mix.

The MLS matches themselves are just part of what’s going to be available come the start of the season, too. You also can enjoy MLS 360, a live “whip-around” show that sort of replicates what you’ll get with NFL RedZone. But given the fluid nature of soccer, you can’t really predict when a team is about to score. But look for it to be able to highlight all the top plays as soon as they’ve happened. There’s also MLS Countdown for pre-game, and MLS Wrap-up for post-match analysis.

All in all, pretty good stuff. We just need the season to start.

MLS Season Pass is available now for $13 a month or $80 a season if you also subscribe to Apple TV+, or $15 a month or $100 a season if you don’t. It’s available on every major streaming platform, from phones and tablets to Roku and Amazon Fire TV. And, of course, on Apple devices.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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