Apple TV Plus has long been mentioned as a possible home for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package when DirecTV’s rights expire in 2023. Indeed, as recently as April, it was “Apple’s to lose”.
But now the company has reportedly walked away from negotiations because “they don’t see the logic” anymore.
That’s according to Dylan Byers of Puck News. “I’m now told that Apple, once seen as a frontrunner for the rights, has also backed out of those negotiations — not because they can’t afford it, but because they don’t see the logic,” he wrote.
Byers doesn’t elaborate on this, but reading between the lines, it’s likely to do with the restrictions that the NFL would put on such a deal. As 9to5Mac points out, reported restrictions would include geographical blocks and a minimum subscription price to ensure the NFL doesn’t hurt its other broadcast deals with CBS and Fox.
These aren’t compromises Apple had to make when it penned its ten-year deal with Major League Soccer. With MLS, Apple TV can stream matches in over 100 countries in multiple languages.
NFL Sunday Ticket: YouTube TV or Prime Video?
Byers states that this development leaves two likely buyers for the Sunday Ticket: Amazon and Google. “There’s certainly a logic there for both companies,” he writes. “Amazon can use it to drive Prime subscriptions; Google can use it to fuel its YouTube TV business.”
Of course, the restrictions could put both of them off in time, and if so the NFL will have to either relax them or accept that the bidding war isn’t going to be quite as lively as expected.
There’s one more interesting tidbit in the piece, with Byers pouring cold water on the always-unlikely-seeming idea that Apple might buy Disney — a rumor that occasionally rears its head.
“I have it on good authority that that’s not on the table right now,” writes Byers. “The regulatory climate makes it impossible, of course, and Apple doesn’t want to be in the theme parks/cruise business anyway, much less manage the inexorable decline of the linear assets.”