Apple has exited talks to secure the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, according to a report from Puck’s Dylan Byers (via 9to5Mac). Sources tell Byers that Apple backed out of the deal because it doesn’t “see the logic,” not because it can’t afford the NFL’s rumored $3.5 billion asking price.
The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan backs up Byers’ reporting, saying on Twitter that he’s told, “Apple has indeed bowed out.” While Apple was once considered the front-runner in Sunday Ticket negotiations, talks between the iPhone maker and the NFL dragged on over the past several months, with a November report from The Athletic indicating that Apple’s expectations didn’t align with that of the NFL.
According to The Athletic, the iPhone maker reportedly wanted to gain the rights to aspects not included in its Sunday Ticket contract, and also expressed concern over some of the limitations that come along with the football package, such as the fact that it can’t stream the games internationally, nor can it access in-market games. On Friday, a report from Sportico revealed that Apple wanted to bundle Sunday Ticket with its $6.99 per month Apple TV Plus subscription at no added cost, something reporter Anthony Crupi describes as “a far too magnanimous gesture” for the NFL.
That leaves Amazon and Google’s YouTube with the chance to snap up the rights to Sunday Ticket. Both companies have reportedly placed bids on Sunday Ticket and have already made forays into live sports, with Amazon Prime Video streaming Thursday Night Football and YouTube TV carrying a number of sports networks. While the Disney-owned ESPN was also rumored to be in the running for Sunday Ticket, Byers doesn’t mention ESPN as a potential candidate and says legacy media companies “can’t justify the expense” of securing the package. DirecTV has owned the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket for nearly three decades, but these rights will expire at the end of this football season.
Apple’s purported exit from the deal comes as a bit of a surprise amidst the company’s push into sports. It snagged a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer earlier this year and will launch its $99 MLS season pass in February. Apple Music is also set to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show on February 12th, 2023.