According to information from journalist Dylan Byers of Puck News, the media that first revealed the affair, Apple would have withdrawn from negotiations for the NFL Sunday Ticket package, after being considered in the best position to win the bet. A first setback in his sporting quest for the Apple TV+ platform.
Apple gives up on the NFL
Earlier in the year, it looked like Apple was close to reaching a deal with the American Football League. Apple executive Eddy Cue had apparently won over NFL executives in meetings, having previously struck sports streaming deals with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. But as talks with the NFL dragged on, Apple walked away from the negotiating table in the face of some of the contract’s limitations. In the end, the firm would not have found “logic” in the agreement.
Cable operator DirecTV is the current owner of the NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives subscribers access to all NFL football games played on Sundays out of market. However, DirecTV does not renew its contract (and increases its rates).
This means that the sunday tickets will have a new partner from 2023. Apple, Amazon, Google (YouTube) and others have reportedly shown interest. The value of a deal is expected to be between $2.5 billion and $3 billion per year.
Going back to negotiations with Apple, reported sticking points on the deal include the lack of international rights, geographic cut-offs, and a minimum subscription price imposed so the NFL doesn’t cannibalize its existing broadcast deals with CBS and Fox.
Compare that to the partnership agreement between Apple and Major League Soccer, for example, which sees all MLS matches broadcast on the Apple TV app for the next ten years, without any regional restrictions, in more from 100 countries and in several languages.
Apple and MLS will also collaborate on marketing, including putting an Apple TV logo on every MLS team jersey, and more to come. Apple pays around $250 million a year for MLS rights. The MLS Season Pass will start in February 2023, priced at €14.99/month or €12.99/month for Apple TV+ subscribers.
Apple could not obtain the same kind of agreement, it preferred to give up.