MLS and Apple TV+ announce 2024 season docuseries from the filmmakers behind “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
Philadelphia Union. Mls
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

MLS and Apple TV+ have announced the impending creation of an all-access documentary about the upcoming 2024 MLS season.

The series will be created by the aptly named Box to Box Films, the award-winning filmmakers who created the hit Netflix series Drive to Survive- to which many have credited the explosion of popularity Formula 1 has experienced in recent years, particularly in the United States.

It’s not hard to imagine MLS executives licking their lips and rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a similar boost, the discrepancy of subscriber count between Apple TV+ (25 million estimated) and Netflix (247.15 million) notwithstanding.

MLS, Soccer
Columbus Crew’s Steven Moreira, left, and Los Angeles FC’s Denis Bouanga, right chase after the ball in the first half of the MLS soccer championship match, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Will the MLS docuseries be beneficial for the league?

Setting aside a possible financial boost, will this documentary be good for the league? Time will tell, but if it can humanize the players, coaches, and fans through compelling narratives in a similar vein to Drive to Survive or Welcome to Wrexham, it could help bring in new fans to a league thirsty for the added attention. As driver and F1 pundit Naomi Schiff once told Esquire about Drive to Survive’s impact on motorsport, “It’s much easier to connect with a sport when you feel like you know the people involved in it.”

Formula 1 works as a good comparison not only because of sharing the same documentary crew, but also because of its position as a sport that struggled to gain a foothold in the United States. Existing fans knew all about the excitement, but it can be hard for people who don’t already know the rules to embrace the drama; they’re still focused on figuring out why this player was considered offsides or why that driver was shown a black and white flag and what it even means. Understanding and interest go hand in hand, and a documentary such as this one can build a bridge that guides the viewer toward both. 

British Grand Prix mls
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix, at the Red Bull Ring racetrack, in Spielberg, Austria, Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Even with a sport like F1 that has only 10 teams with 20 drivers, certain teams and personalities have been highlighted far more often than others across Drive to Survive’s 5 seasons. For every Daniel Ricciardo and Guenther Steiner who captured the hearts and minds of fans new and old alike, there were plenty of drivers, team principals, and other crew who rarely, if ever, made an appearance.

The Messi factor 

The issue of who to focus on will only be exacerbated when trying to cover a league of 29 teams with rosters numbering 23-30 players. The obvious choice, of course, is Lionel Messi. While I think most people expect him and his Inter Miami team to feature prominently, Apple TV+ already has two documentaries about the magical Argentinian in production: one about his arrival to MLS and one about his time with the Argentina men’s national team. They’ll have to find a balance between the huge draw of Messi, and allowing the rest of the teams and players to have their own deserved time in the spotlight.

Who will they focus on?

There are a number of interesting possibilities for compelling narratives from around the league. A former giant upstaged in recent years by their new neighbors- “El Traffico” has proven people are interested in the battles between the two Los Angeles teams. Cincinnati’s growth from a triple Wooden Spoon (the “trophy” given to the worst team in the league) laughing stock into a second Philadelphia Union– sorry, I mean Supporter’s Shield winners. (Former Union academy player) Zach Steffen’s return to the US with Colorado after a disappointing stint at Manchester City. Columbus’s battle to retain their MLS title. Dax McCarty’s ability to not age. Just to name a few. How will they decide who to focus on?

Right now we have more questions than answers. And yet, I find myself excited. I love soccer documentaries. I love seeing behind the scenes to some of the inner workings of clubs. Whether Sunderland, Wrexham, Munich, or here in the US, the connection between players, coaches, front offices, and the wider community always serves up compelling drama, and that’s before you even get to everything on the pitch. 

Messi, Union, Soccer, mls
nter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) makes a free kick to score a goal during the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match against Cruz Azul, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Inter Miami defeated Cruz Azul 2-1. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Ultimately, a good product is the most important thing. Entertaining viewing makes for increased viewership, and growth for the league. Plus, as I mentioned before, it’s just plain interesting to get a peak behind the curtain (and maybe, if we’re lucky, the Curtin). Fans of soccer everywhere should hope those behind this new documentary make like Kyle Schwarber and knock it out of the park.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union