Before he helped create “Ted Lasso,” a TV series about American football coaches and the AFC Richmond British football team, Brendan Hunt was a young actor working with an improv group in Amsterdam.
And he’s useless for football, which dominates Dutch culture.
“I don’t hate it,” he says now. “It was something so distant to me that I hardly touched. And I think its disappearance in my life is probably for good reason.
“But when I left Amsterdam,” he added. “I am a hardcore person.”
How hard is it? Hunt is a two-time Emmys Award-winning actor, writer and producer for his Apple TV+ comedy show focusing on his once retired sport. is currently in his third season as an LAFC season ticket holder and a loyal supporter of the men’s and women’s national teams. And if a Chicago Bears fan like him can start The journey from agnostic to soccer was early. Hunt believes that others can do it too
“It’s entirely possible,” says Hunt, who plays the honest and playful Coach Beard in “Lasso,” now in its third season. “When you get help You really try it You’ll see that it has everything other sports. There is one that makes you want to see it.”
Apple is betting hard that Hunt is correct last summer. With the tech giant riding the “Lasso” high, it has agreed to a 10-year, $2.5 billion worldwide broadcast deal with Major League Soccer. The highest league of sports in the United States and Canada. It’s two years longer and nearly three times the price of the league’s previous broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox and Univision, and more than 16 times the TV revenue MLS had less than a decade ago.
The MLS Season Pass, launched in February, is designed to be a one-stop shop for all things MLS, including live and replays of every league match. Surrounded highlights feature similar to NFL Network’s Red Zone; and shoulder programming with in-studio analysis and post-game press conferences.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services, whose work includes Apple TV and Apple TV+, insisted that the success of “Ted Lasso” was not a factor in the company’s decision to invest billions in football. “But it doesn’t hurt,” he said.
“They are obviously free. I think this game is really great. it is growing So it was more of a coincidence.”
It’s no coincidence: Apple’s broadcast deal will cover the 2026 and 2028 seasons, where the Men’s World Cup and Summer Olympics will take place in the United States. Which almost generates interest and a large football audience.
The MLS Season Pass isn’t Apple’s first foray into live sports. last season There are two Major League Baseball games on Apple TV+, but it’s the first major mark the company has placed in the sports streaming market. Subscription package revenue is expected to reach $22.6 billion by 2017, up 73% from last year, according to a recent report by leading firm Parks Associates. research and consulting firms
And there are many things about football in general. and especially the MLS that convinced Cue that this was the right sport. right time And the right league for Apple to join too.
“If we are going into the sport industry I want to partner with a league or sports entity where we can really innovate and innovate together,” he says. “We love our fan base. It is much younger than the other family-focused characters. Demographics are out. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from.
“For me, growing up in the United States reminded me of college: a fan base that is really passionate about the team and the game.”
That fan base is likely to grow thanks to “Ted Lasso”, which centers on a well-meaning and suave college football coach who is lured to London to manage a Premier League football club despite having no knowledge of the sport whatsoever.
“He has no ego,” said Sudeikis, 47. “He is Mr Rogers who met John Wooden.”
The series premiered in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. and Lasso’s indomitable optimism, ridiculous aphorisms. Lasso’s unfailing hope and compassion proved to be the perfect tonic for the moment.
Sudeikis and Hunt stumbled upon the concept of the show and the characters they played while performing with the improv group Boom Chicago in Amsterdam when Sudeikis decided to purchase a PlayStation for the theatre’s dressing room. The only game he encounters is “FIFA”, a football video game. which is a sport that actors do not understand and appreciate
within a few weeks Both were addicted to this sport. Growing up acting is a whole game and has nothing to do with it.
“This show is as much about football as ‘Rocky’ is about boxing,” says Sudeikis. “But we want the football fans, the athletes, the people who love it, to feel that it honors the spirit of that beautiful game.”
decades The lack of soccer knowledge in the US would make it difficult to write a series about the sport. Even if the game is mostly in the background. But football has since made its way into popular culture, with NBC acquiring the rights to broadcast English Premier League games. The characters of Ted Lasso and Coach Beard debuted in a pair of promotions to advertise those broadcasts. and the women’s national team won two World Cup titles.
“I would like to think that our show was to put football in some living room where it had previously been used inappropriately. And perhaps the gentlest way to lure people into the football team,” said Hunt, 51, adding that the amount of real football content on “Ted Lasso” grew each season. Go to a real football team definitely have a chance
“People who have never given two seconds—about football before. Now maybe give me one second at least— People at least respect or appreciate its size and scale and the dedication that it inspires. People can no longer destroy it. at least.”
That’s not like being a fan. But it’s a bigger step towards convincing people to pay $99 for an MLS season pass, said Vlad Dima, a Syracuse University professor who teaches classes on football and pop culture. “It’s a big deal. reach out to say ‘If this show is popular, people will watch MLS too.’”
Americans love winners. And the top US sports leagues such as the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and the NHL feature some of the best players in the world in their games. The best Americans also play in international leagues instead of those that Apple TV+ partners with.
Although the success of “Ted Lasso” has made audiences more aware of the sport. But it’s the game itself that will turn them into fans.
“MLS has grown and got better over the last 10 years, helping general knowledge,” Dima said. “I taught this subject last semester. They’ve played the game before. And one of the questions is about the popularity of the game. The consensus is that men’s teams need to consistently win on the world stage.”
Although Ted Lasso is the actual coach But he couldn’t make that happen. But like Cue Dima said, when it comes to popularizing football The TV show was certainly not damaged.
“Maybe a little bit of a dent,” he says. “This is a story that feels very classic, isn’t it? It’s relentless optimism. And I think it fits that approach more than anything else.
“Honestly, my point is, yes, it helped the game get a little bit popular in the US.”
Or as Ted Lasso said, it gives Apple reason to believe.
Streaming: Apple TV+
when: Any time new episode Wednesday
score: TV-MA (may not be suitable for children under 17)