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  • Writer's pictureCal Forde

The Evolving Nonfiction Sports Media Landscape

Apple TV Teams Up with Major League Soccer for Exclusive Docuseries as Box to Box Films Scores Major Investment from Bruin Capital

By: Cal Forde

January 30, 2024

Photo Credit: Don Garber on X

On January 11, 2024, Apple TV+ and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced an eight-part docuseries exploring the exhilarating, unpredictable 2024 MLS season. The panoramic docuseries will feature unparalleled access to players, coaches, front offices, and teams, bringing die-hard, casual, and even non-sports fans a never before seen perspective of North American professional soccer. Apple TV adds this currently unnamed docuseries to its already expansive roster of nonfiction sports docuseries. Series such as “Messi Meets America” – an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of Lionel Messi’s life as he made his highly anticipated MLS debut with Inter Miami – as well as “Underrated,” featuring NBA legend Stephen Curry, and “Make or Break,” a thrilling docuseries following the world's best professional surfers, have dominated Apple TV’s recent releases. 

Additionally, in early 2023, MLS and Apple TV premiered a 10-year partnership providing MLS fans in over 100 countries and on over one billion devices with unrestricted access to all MLS games (League’s Cup and MLS Cup Playoffs included) through a MLS Season Pass subscription on Apple TV. The addition of live sports to notable streaming services’ rosters indicate a greater shift in the landscape of sports entertainment, as streaming services such as Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video dive headlong into the live and nonfiction sports sectors. 

Box to Box Films, a critically acclaimed, award winning London-based documentary producer, has been awarded production of Apple TV’s exclusive MLS docuseries. Most notably, Box to Box is known for their production of Netflix’s incredibly successful F1 docuseries, “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” as well as the production of some of Netflix’s most notorious sports docuseries, “Break Point,” “Full Swing,” and “Tour de France: Unchained.” 

As popularity of sports docuseries and inside perspectives into athletes' lives has increased, investors seem to be following the trend too. Just this month, Bruin Capital, a global sports private equity firm, invested around $38 million to take a “significant minority stake” in Box to Box Films, stated the SBJ. This deal provides “growth capital to support the further expansion of Box to Box” as Box to Box aims to capitalize on the expanding sports docuseries rush. Expect the amount of exclusive, athlete-centered content to continue rising as filmmakers benefit from the influx of cash. 

Like fans and viewers, investors see value in bringing sports and stars into mainstream culture. But what are the implications of athletes becoming more Hollywood and less on-the-field stars? From an athlete and team perspective, the benefits outweigh the costs. With increased media attention and coverage, athletes secure larger sponsorships and brand deals, as well as the ability to leverage their platform to its highest potential. However, some fans worry that with increased attention, players are becoming more important than their individual teams – a trend frequently seen as stars leave longtime fan bases in pursuit of the glamor and fame bigger-market cities have to offer.


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