Apple pushes for flexibility with game rights in NFL Sunday Ticket negotiations

Apple is in discussions with the National Football League for the NFL Sunday Ticket package, but the talks are centered on the existing restrictions for the package. In its live sports streaming deals Apple wants to partner with sports leagues – as they did this year with Major League Soccer – rather than act as a standard rental conduit for broadcast rights.

Apple in talks with NFL for Sunday Ticket streaming rights

Alex Sherman for CNBC:

Apple has been among the favorites to land the package, in part because the league already has broadcast deals in place with rival bidders, including Disney and Amazon. A partnership with Apple would allow the NFL to build a relationship with the deepest-pocketed company in the world.

But existing restrictions around Sunday Ticket have slowed negotiations between Apple and the NFL in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. Talks between the league and potential buyers of Sunday Ticket are continuing, the people said.

Apple is looking for partnerships with sports leagues in which it can offer consumers more than standard rights agreements — such as having free rein to offer games globally or in local markets. Apple has that type of deal with Major League Soccer, a 10-year partnership that begins in 2023.

“We weren’t interested in buying sports rights,” Cue said this week at a Paley Center for Media panel in New York. “There’s all kinds of capabilities that we’re going to be able to do together because we have everything together. And so if I have a great idea, I don’t have to think about, OK, well, my contract or the deal of interest will allow this.”

Sunday Ticket is also a U.S.-only product. It remains unclear what the NFL is willing to give Apple to enhance a deal beyond what it’s sold to DirecTV for the past 28 years. Still, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC in July part of the benefit of selling to a streamer is to “innovate beyond where we are today.”

MacDailyNews Take: Goodell said he plans to choose a new Sunday Ticket home by fall of this year, so Apple and the rest of us will know soon enough, but the sooner the better as Apple (or whoever inks the deal, but we strongly lean towards Apple in this one) will want that time to plan, create, and execute marketing for next season.

Of course, Apple landing rights to exclusive live sports is an idea of pure brilliance 😉:

Cook should consider bidding for and winning NFL Sunday Ticket away from DirecTV, buying rights to Premiere League and La Liga games, etc. and making them Apple TV exclusives. Go directly to the sports leagues with boatloads of cash. — MacDailyNews, May 6, 2014

MLB Friday Night Baseball and the entire MLS are nice, but if Apple is really serious about live sports, and they clearly seem to be, a significant NFL deal is an absolute must.MacDailyNews, July 8, 2022

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