Football may have a new home on Sundays from 2022. According to a new report in The Information (opens in new tab), Apple has expressed an interest in taking on the rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package when the current contract with DirecTV ends next year.
NFL Sunday Ticket would be a key way for Apple to drive Apple TV Plus subscriptions. To date, the service has relied on the company’s own exclusive, original content such as Ted Lasso, Mythic Quest and The Morning Show. Live sports would help attract a known audience that these pre-made shows can’t necessarily reach and is, in many ways, less of a gamble than commissioning something entirely new.
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The Sunday Ticket package is a subscription service that provides live streaming of every NFL game not already earmarked by local affiliates. While the rights are currently held by DirecTV, which was a key incentive for the company’s merger with AT&T a few years ago, The Information claims that Sunday Ticket has actually lost the business money of late, which makes a renewal unlikely.
That isn’t to say that Apple will have a clear run. The report highlights both Disney’s ESPN and Amazon’s Prime Video as keen to get their hands on rights to more football games, which could prompt the kind of bidding war that will be music to the ears of NFL executives.
While the report suggests Apple isn’t a serious contender for the rights, there’s reason not to rule the company out — and not just because it has the kind of wealth most businesses can only dream of.
The report highlights the 2020 hire of James DeLorenzo as head of the sports division for Apple TV Plus. Previously of Amazon, DeLorenzo was responsible for Prime Video’s current roster of NFL live games, so Apple already has an existing relationship with the decision makers that matter.
Whether it’s NFL or something else, Apple is keen to make TV Plus appealing as possible, as we’re now reaching the point where many customers’ free year’s trial is coming to an end. While many will be convinced to keep paying $4.99 a month thanks to the current catalogue, others will be wondering if their streaming dollars can be better spent elsewhere.
An Apple TV Plus deal with the NFL could be pivotal in attracting those left cold by the company’s current largely sports-free offering. And put more pressure on all of the competition.
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