Apple to bid for 2013-16 English Premier League Rights?
The Daily Mail (yes, I know...) is reporting that Apple are considering a bid for the English Premier League viewing rights. This would indicate a serious step into the UK television business (note this is only for the UK market, there isn't any rumour about International rights, although it would be the next logical step).
Any bid would be for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, and would be for the Live viewing rights, not the highlights or internet rights. This is a crucial point as at the moment the rights are held by Sky TV and ESPN and this would be the first foray by a non-TV company into the market (which until recently was 100% controlled by Sky).
Technologically speaking I still don't think the UK is ready right now for TV over the Internet in this state and scale, bare in mind that football is phenomenally popular in the UK, people want to see it in HD (or even 3D) with a solid stream and without interruption and most importantly LIVE. If people's internet isn't of sufficient quality to watch the live games then they will object, vehemently, this includes thousands of pubs and gyms, not to mention the fact that whilst major cities have good broadband there are parts of major towns that are struggling at fractions of a Mb. Those speeds would be unacceptable for this sort of coverage.
However, saying this by 2013 we may have seen advancements (although I don't think it will be nearly enough).
The positive for the public is that it breaks the Sky monopoly further and Apple could bring further innovations to the broadcasting of football and the portability of watching it, the disadvantage is that it is generally considered that Sky produce the best coverage of Football so do we really want to risk a potentially lesser service.
The main question about all this is why Apple would want to spend a chunk of change on TV rights in one country, it would be one hell of a benefit for their hardware in the UK, imagine watching Football over LTE on your iPad, iPhone, over WiFi on your Apple TV (or Apple made TV) and iPod not to mention via iTunes on your Mac or PC.
The arithmetic of it all escapes me at the moment (it is late after all) but baring in mind the competition at minimum would be Sky and ESPN as well as possibly Qatari owned Al Jazeera the figures would be towards the Billions of Pounds (Sky and ESPN paid £1.78Bn last time around for a 3 year deal). Whilst Apple certainly have the cash to make this gamble it would certainly not be a slam-dunk (to mix sports) and could leave them with a negative PR disaster if they mess with the nations favourite past-time too much. Although, it would be high-risk, it is also high reward and could see already high sales of iOS devices soar further.
Long story short, I don't think this Bid is likely to happen, but if it does it will cause shockwaves around Sky HQ.