Apple’s best product of 2023 wasn’t the latest editions of the iPhone, iPad or iWatch, but rather Lionel Messi, who is the subject of the tech giant’s latest documentary.
‘Messi Meets America’ is the name of the six-part Apple TV docuseries that starts on October 11. The piece details the seven-time Ballons d’Or winner’s transfer from Paris SG to Inter Miami, a struggling MLS club co-owned by David Beckham.
Since his arrival this summer, the Herons have enjoyed a miraculous turnaround and are now in danger of reaching the MLS play-offs despite Messi’s ongoing injury problems.
His arrival has been equally important for Apple TV, which streams all MLS games and has used Messi as a springboard to launch himself into the sports media market.
Messi has even contributed to an unprecedented flow of new subscribers to Apple TV, with more than 110,000 fans signing up for the MLS Season Pass for his Inter Miami debut alone. According to subscription analytics firm Antenna, via the Wall Street Journal, there were more than 110,000 new players on July 21 – the day Messi played his first Inter Miami match and scored a last-minute free kick against Cruz Azul.
Messi controls the ball during the first half during a match between Toronto FC and Inter Miami
That “huge bump” dwarfs the previous day’s number of registrations (6,143) and is a larger number than both the opening day of the MLS season and the day the Season Pass became available. July also saw an increase in Apple TV+ subscriptions, making it the best month for new US customers in 2023.
“There is only one Lionel Messi, so this was a really big moment for sports in this country,” Antenna CEO Jonathan Carson told the WSJ.
The latest Messi Meets America trailer features behind-the-scenes footage, as well as highlights and interviews with Beckham and of course the man himself.
“My happiness has always been playing football,” Messi said through an interpreter. “And now I’m continuing it here.”
Inter Miami’s Argentinian forward #10 Lionel Messi speaks with his wife Antonela Roccuzzo
It’s hard to say where the Herons will be in the MLS playoff picture by the time the October 11 premiere rolls around.
Inter Miami plays Chicago on Wednesday before wrapping up the season with games against Cincinnati and a home-and-home with Charlotte. The Herons are currently four points out of a play-in spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
But concerns remain over Messi’s ongoing leg problems.
The team announced that Messi would not play about 45 minutes before Saturday’s match against visiting NYCFC. Without Messi, Miami still had some magic, with Tomás Avilés scoring from a header in stoppage time to save what became a 1-1 draw. NYCFC took the lead after a Santiago Rodriguez goal in the 77th minute.
The 36-year-old Messi has now missed four of Inter Miami’s last five matches, plus another for Argentina in that period, due to what was initially termed fatigue – by both his club and country – and has evolved from there. The only game he did not miss during that period was a 37-minute appearance against Toronto on September 20, and he had to leave that match before halftime due to a suspected hamstring problem.
“He’s getting better and better,” Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said after Saturday’s match.
High school students stand next to the Lionel Messi mural they made with plastic bottle caps
Inter Miami still has playoff hopes, but they took a hit on Saturday and the team is no longer in control of its postseason fate, whether Messi returns or not. It is four points behind Montreal for the ninth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference; Inter Miami has four games left, Montreal has three. NYCFC moved up to No. 8 in the East with the tie and climbed one spot.
And Messi’s status remains a mystery, even as some fans pay hundreds of dollars (or more) to attend a match in hopes of seeing him play. Martino said Messi is expected to be on the training pitch in the coming days, with more evaluation on Tuesday. The team next plays in Chicago on Wednesday.
“We’re not going to take any chances,” Martino said.
Many fans on social media have reacted with outrage to the team’s posts about the lack of transparency over Messi’s status. A post previewing the NYCFC match, sent around noon on Saturday, drew comments like, “Post the squad and don’t fool your own fans.” Feel a little ashamed.’ and ‘Can you be clear about what is going on with Messi.’
Messi’s status is not the only topic of discussion within the team in recent days. Inter Miami sent out season ticket renewal announcements this week, with major price increases in every section for next season. Season prices in the section where Inter Miami’s most ardent supporters stand, chant and wave banners for the entirety of the matches will increase by 82 percent in 2024 (from $485 to $884). Prices for some seats near center field will be 98 percent higher (from $1,333 to $2,635) in some sections than the published price of what they were this year, and other fans were told they would face an increase of more than 100 percent expect compared to what they paid. The published price for the most expensive season tickets will be $40,000 next season, and that doesn’t even include the suites.
Prices were certainly expected to rise; Messi’s 2.5-year contract pays him an average of over $50 million annually, and that’s not even taking into account what Inter Miami spent this year to land its other two big midseason signings: Jordi Alba (who also sidelined due to injury) and Sergio Busquets.
Inter Miami fans outside the stadium prior to the match against Toronto FC on September 20
But it’s also clear that the team is already enjoying revenue streams like never before. MLS announced on Friday that Messi’s shirt – no surprise at all – is the best seller in the league this season. Without releasing sales numbers, MLS announced the 25 most popular jerseys sold on mlsstore.com and Messi’s ranks at No. 1, with Busquets at No. 13 and Inter Miami’s Josef Martinez at No. 21.
That data represents all sales on the site since January 1, and Messi and Busquets weren’t even at Inter Miami until July. It also doesn’t include anything the team itself has sold.
Messi scored eleven goals in twelve games with Inter Miami this season. The team is 8-0-4 when he plays; seven of those matches were on the way to the team’s first ever trophy by claiming the Leagues Cup championship. The irony of that sequence was that it raised concerns about how much Messi was asked to play in a relatively short time after joining. new club. He played in four MLS matches and one US Open Cup semifinal.
The team is now 1-2-2 in the five games without Messi since he joined the club. Since signing, Inter Miami has outscored their opponents 29-12 when Messi is on the pitch, and 13-11 when he is not on the pitch.