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Lionel Messi’s first season with Inter Miami in MLS draws massive audience

Even if Lionel Messi’s first season in Major League Soccer with Inter Miami didn’t help overcome a rough start, culminating in another year of missing the playoffs, his brief exposure to the MLS was a massive success in many aspects.

Earlier this week, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue revealed that each match Messi played brought in roughly an average of one million people.

“We’ve had more than a million viewers to watch the biggest games this season; no one expected that.”

Apple vice president Eddy Cue on Lionel Messi’s impact on TV viewership

Apple also rolled out its MLS Season Pass streaming service, giving soccer fans more access to matchups than ever before. In comparison to the final season of MLS games on ESPN networks, which averaged just 343,000 viewers, Apple’s first year was an overwhelming success.

Nearly immediately after Messi inked his two-and-a-half-year contract with Inter Miami, Apple reports seeing large spikes in MLS Season Pass subscriptions in areas like Argentina and Brazil. They also saw boosts in subscriptions in Mexico leading up to the Leagues Cup, in addition to other areas like the UK, France, and several other European countries.

Inter Miami’s chief business officer Xavi Asensi also added that Messi’s had a profound impact on the soccer club’s earnings too. As of now, Inter Miami projects a $200 million revenue for the 2024 season, which is more than three times as much revenue as before Messi arrived. With a 1,215 percent increase in season ticket applications, even after nearly doubling ticket prices, it’s safe to say soccer fans everywhere are intrigued to watch Messi in 2024.

Related: 10 best soccer players of all time, from Diego Maradona to Lionel Messi