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Live sports on Apple TV Plus? Don’t bet against it

Apple could be planning to add live sports to its repertoire of original programming on Apple TV Plus, judging by a recent hire.

According to Recode’s Peter Kafka, Apple has poached an Amazon executive who helped bring high-profile live sports action to Prime Video.

Jim DeLorenzo was influential in the deals to bring sports to Amazon after joining in 2016. Since then Amazon has acquired the rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football games and, more recently, the English Premier League.

Kafka does point out that DeLorenzo had been running Amazon’s audio book offshoot Audible more recently, but does say he has been specifically hired by Apple to “head up sports for its Apple TV unit.”

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In a tweet, the Recode reporter wrote: “Apple has hired Amazon exec Jim DeLorenzo to head up sports for its Apple TV unit. DeLorenzo went to Amazon in 2016 to run sports there, tho his current LinkedIn says he’s SVP at Amazon’s Audible.”

Until now we had zero expectations that Apple would be getting into live sports as part of its original content offering, but this changes things somewhat. In an interview with Sports Illustrated more than a year ago, Apple executive Eddy Cue said Apple had given “not a lot” of thought to acquiring live sports content.

However, he did add: “That’s not to say we would never do sports, because who the heck knows. Never is a long time, but I don’t think that’s a problem right now.”

“You really can’t own all the rights, so therefore at some point you need to solve some other problems. You can’t design for owning the rights because if that’s the only thing you’re doing you’re always going to be tiny.”

Adding live sports would certainly get more eyes on the Apple TV+ service, which has so far focused on dramas, documentaries and comedies.

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