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Apple could disrupt live sports in a major way as NFL rights loom

Apple is once again rumoured to be taking a major interest in broadcasting live sports via its Apple TV platform.

According to a report in the United States, Apple is in the running to acquire the NFL Sunday Ticket platform in time for the 2023 season, which starts in September of that year. That would be a massive deal, both literally and figuratively.

For the unfamiliar, NFL Sunday Ticket is a pretty big deal across the pond. If you live outside of the local ‘market’ of your favourite team, it guarantees the ability to watch their games every week, even if they aren’t broadcast on national TV, without the use of a VPN.

It’s also a must-have for sports bar owners, who seek to show every American football game on Sundays to an audience of patrons who may be supporting one or more of the 32 teams in the NFL (and could be gambling/playing fantasy in relation to the rest).

According to the report from Sports Business Journal (via 9to5Mac), Apple is competing with the likes of Amazon and Disney for the rights to the package, given the current rights holder DirecTV is reportedly only interested in renewing the license for broadcasts in bars and restaurants.

According to the report, this deal might cost the winning bidder as much as $2 billion a year. The sources also say Amazon and Apple’s offers are significantly higher than what Disney has discussed thus far.

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Amazon currently has access to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games, something Apple was again rumoured to be bidding for as far back as 2017. Amazon also has some exclusive access to Premier League football too.

Should Apple get involved in airing live sports content it would likely result in a major shake-up of how the content is received. For a start it would mean streaming the games, rather than the current satellite and cable delivery method.

It could also signal broader intentions to go after other events. The NFL is a crown jewel of American television, so why wouldn’t the cash-rich company consider following that up with a bid for Premier League football rights when they come up for grabs again?

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