Over the past two decades, Apple has transformed itself from a maker of expensive computers into a hardware, software, and entertainment goliath. Live sport could be next on the agenda – according to a report in Front Office Sports, Apple is eyeing a multi-billion dollar bid for the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket package.
Sunday Ticket, which carries NFL games not available in the market, has been supported by Directv since its inception in 1994. The rights to Sunday Ticket will expire after the 2022 season and with Directv bleeding subscribers as well as money, Sunday Ticket will be able to have a new home for the 2023 season.
In addition to selling the rights to Sunday Ticket, the NFL is also seeking an investment partner for NFL Media, which includes the league’s website, NFL Network and NFL RedZone. Apple would also become a minority shareholder of NFL Media, in addition to receiving the streaming rights to out-of-print NFL games.
Last year, the NFL signed its current broadcast partners into new deals totaling $9 billion annually. Amazon also secured the rights to the Thursday Night Games listing for another $1 billion a year.
Apple has to pay dearly to take part in some NFL action. Not only does the expiring Sunday ticket deal cost Directv $1.5 billion annually, but some of the league’s broadcasting rights holders saw their costs nearly double under the new deals, which run through the 2033 season. Add a 49 percent stake in NFL Media to the equation, and Apple would certainly be paying more than $3 billion a year to do business with the most popular professional sports league in the United States.
That’s small change for a company with over $200 billion in cash and securities.
While Apple has also negotiated with Major League Baseball to stream weekday regular-season games, a deal with the NFL or MLB would mark its first foray into live sports. With Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime constantly releasing new script programs, streaming live sports would give Apple another way to differentiate itself from the competition, which would result in more subscribers … and more money.