Apple’s Sports App Is a Decent Start, but It Could Be So Much More

Apple is building its sports ambitions into something, but the pieces don’t add up yet.

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If you needed any proof that Apple is getting very serious about its foray into live sports, a couple of announcements this week really hammered its ambitions home.

First, there’s an entirely native new sports app called Apple Sports, which will be exclusive to iPhones to begin with. Inverse Deputy Editor Raymond Wong wrote all about it here if you want to know more, but the gist is this: you can track your favorite team, scores, and real-time, in-game stats, like fouls, or goals, or substitutions. You’ll even get — please hold your gasps — betting odds. It’s a proper app designed and ready for iPhone-havers everywhere, and it’s also Apple’s first truly dedicated sports app ever.

But the deepening of live sports offerings doesn’t stop there.

Apple Sports is about stats and betting, but no streaming.


Apple’s MLS Season Pass — which for the uninitiated is its Major League Soccer streaming service that lives inside Apple TV+ — also got quite a few new features. Among them are additional content, highlights, and game data. I got a rundown from Apple this week and can confirm that it makes MLS Season Pass look and feel even more like a proper sports streaming service.

So it’s clear: Apple is serious about its role in purveying live sports. But that being said, it has just one major issue: none of its ideas play as a team, or at least not yet.

Too Many Stars

If you find it strange that Apple’s new Sports App doesn’t feature the one thing that most people want to do with sports (watch them), well, I share your feelings — but here we are.

And as theoretically useful as a sports-dedicated app could be at combining all that Apple has to offer in live athletics in one place, its constellation of sports offerings is still a fractious affair. There’s streaming of MLB on Apple TV+, then there’s MLS Season Pass, which is a separate tab inside Apple TV+ and a separate subscription on top of that, and now there’s a native iPhone app for all of the data.

The constellation grows even bigger and more segmented when you factor in Apple’s probable ambitions towards immersive sports on the Vision Pro. Recently, Apple announced that it would be bringing immersive video — shot in 8K 3D with a 180-degree field-of-view and spatial audio — to the MLS Season Pass. In one way, it’s just one more piece of sports content, but in others, immersive sports video is a whole other product entirely.

Then there’s the ecosystem problem: Apple Sports is only on iPhone, and when you factor that in, the calculus of what you can watch or consume and where becomes even more confusing.


So my suggestion is this: Make Apple Sports actually Apple Sports. That means putting everything in one place. All the in-game data; all the actual streaming; all the added content. One unified Apple Sports experience under one roof with room to grow.

As I’ve written previously, I’m particularly excited by the Vision Pro’s potential to deliver really immersive sports and a unified Apple Sports app would be the perfect place to make that happen. Imagine being able to download one app, pull it up on your headset, and then watch all of the immersive sports content you’d ever need under one roof. It may not seem like much, but I don’t think anyone can argue with making streaming and app experiences more seamless.

Make Apple Sports a Team Player

With all these gripes outlined, I’d like to give Apple some credit first — I don’t think its piecemeal approach is out of ignorance. It makes sense to introduce features and services in drips and drabs until you’ve got enough of something to roll into an app. It also helps to see what takes and what doesn’t before you put all your eggs in one basket.

But that time, I think, is rapidly approaching to reassess that piecemeal attitude. Apple’s involvement in live sports isn’t just an experiment anymore, it’s a non-trivial pillar of the Apple streaming and iOS experience, and as such, it’s probably time to start treating it that way.

What I’m saying is simple: Give us the Apple Sports App we deserve — give us the one where we can actually watch sports.

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