The NFL’s $100 billion rights deal in March did not include a partner for its Sunday Ticket package.
Friday, The Information reported that Apple is in “early talks” with the NFL to acquire Sunday Ticket, which allows subscribers to watch all of the NFL’s out-of-market games on Fox and CBS.
Potential partners expect the NFL will charge more for Sunday Ticket moving forward than its current $1.5 billion a year agreement with DirecTV. AT&T/DirecTV holds the package’s exclusive rights until the end of the 2022 season.
While DirecTV has said to have lost as much as $2.5 billion in its time holding the rights, Sunday Ticket would be a game-changer for Apple.
Presumably, Apple would offer Sunday Ticket as an add-on to its $4.99 a month AppleTV+ streaming service. AppleTV+ does not have the strong library that its competitors offer, but getting into business with the NFL would put Apple’s OTT into the discussion.
Securing the rights to Sunday Ticket is also a strategic defensive play. Should Apple fail to get the deal done, the package would likely go to and elevate one of its competitors, pushing AppleTV further behind. If not Apple, Sunday Ticket could end up on ESPN+ (part of Disney’s streaming bundle) or Amazon’s Prime Video.
“There are signs Apple’s attitude to programming investment may be changing,” The Information says. “Last year, Apple hired James DeLorenzo to run its sports division for Apple TV+. DeLorenzo came from Amazon, where as head of sports for Amazon Video, he negotiated Amazon’s initial deal with the NFL to stream live games. The move suggests Apple is taking a closer look at bringing live sports into its still-fledgling streaming business.”
In addition to Sunday Ticket, the NFL Network and RedZone could also partner with a streaming giant. In a June letter, the league told team owners that it had hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore potential partnerships with a media or technology company to bolster NFL Network, RedZone, and NFL.com.
To sum it up, there’s only one way to live in 2021: subscribe to Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, HBO Max, AppleTV+, Amazon Prime Video, Discovery+, Tubi, and about 20 other streaming services. Ahh, the days of only paying for cable.