Apple Reportedly Has 'NFL Sunday Ticket' in the Bag
By Daniel Frankel
Apple has already won the bidding to pay more than $2 billion a year for the "NFL Sunday Ticket" games bundle and will assume control of the out-of-market regular season games package when it breaks free from the only television distribution partner it has ever had, DirecTV, starting in the 2023 season.
Puck News reporter Matthew Belloni, citing unnamed sourcing, said a deal between Apple and the NFL has already been made, but Apple is holding off on making an announcement. (Editor's note: The widely consumed NFL Draft is set to begin on April 28.)
It wouldn't be all that surprising for Apple to win the prized asset. In February, Sports Business News' John Ourand reported that the bidding would exceed $2 billion annually and was largely down to Apple and Amazon.
Apple hasn't commented publicly on this matter.
NFL Sunday Ticket is an a la carte pay TV product that has been exclusively available on DirecTV since its launch in 1994. Subscribers pay from $290 - $400 a season to have Sunday access to every live NFL regular season game not being played in their local market.
DirecTV has expressed an interest in keeping the venue rights to broadcast NFL Sunday Ticket in places like bars and restaurants.
Apple, which has a market capitalization of $2.7 trillion, has been aggressive with sports rights, paying $55 million a year, and another $30 billion in an advertising split, to Major League Baseball for the rights to its brand new Friday Night Baseball franchise.
Apple's early efforts with baseball -- its first live sports initiative for that matter -- has been dinged for some early bugs, but it's also been praised for some modern livening of baseball's somewhat staid offering.
At least one streaming industry pundit raised surprise that Apple trumped Amazon for Sunday Ticket rights.
"I had always assumed Amazon was the most likely home for this package, given their deep pockets, the proven success of scale sporting events on the Amazon platform, a successful, multi-year proven track record with Thursday Night Football, the AWS advanced stats partnership, and finally, the tremendous e-commerce synergies," wrote Erik Opeka, chief strategy officer for Cinedigm, on LinkedIn Monday afternoon.