The selling point for Apple TV+ right now is original series, films, and documentaries. But that could include live sports in the future.
According to a report from Sports Business Daily recently (via 9to5Mac), the Pacific-12 (or Pac-12) Conference is going to negotiate its next major deal for media rights in the near future, and apparently several different major media companies might be involved in the talks. According to the report, companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix have been absent in similar talks for media rights to Major League Baseball or the National Football League.
However, it will likely be different for the Pac-12 Conference and its collegiate athletic events.
The report calls out Apple specifically for having the “most intriguing conversations”, despite the fact the company has not settled on any sort of financial model for sports coverage and streaming rights. Apparently some executives at Apple have told school and conference officials that adding live sports coverage could help its own digital streaming service stand out from rivals.
Apparently Apple has been very direct about the possibility:
This is what they’re telling us,” Pac-12 Networks President Mark Shuken said. “Several of them have come to us and said that they want to be in this space.
The report states that Apple is only interested in certain elements of potential streaming rights. The Apple executives have informed the Pac-12 Conference presidents that it is only interested in the conference’s “primary media rights package”, and not just a digital one. If you’re curious who currently owns those rights, it’s a combination of ESPN and Fox, both of which pay a combined $250 million per year on average to air Pac-12 games.
They said that they are very interested in learning more about the rights and learning more about the business to determine whether or not they’d be a viable partner in 2024,” Shuken said. “They said that, on the surface, we look like a good partner to investigate.
The Apple TV app already supports the Pac-12 Conference’s app, so there is, technically, a relationship between the conference and the company. However, that does not mean that Apple will be the next home for Pac-12 Conference games anytime soon. But it certainly sounds like those in charge at Pac-12 are confident something could materialize in the near future.
Of course, this is not the first time that we’ve heard Apple is working with the Pac-12 Conference to bring live game coverage to Apple TV+. We reported on this back in December of last year, so it’s possible that these conversations have been ongoing for quite some time. Which may or may not be a sign that something will actually happen to get live sports coverage on Apple’s original video streaming service.
It’s also interesting that the original report that Apple, along with the other big tech companies, haven’t been interested in media streaming packages from the likes of the MLB and the NFL, namely the latter. In January of this year there were rumors that Apple TV+ could be the next home for the NFL’s premium subscriber package Sunday Ticket. And then, back in 2016, there were reports that Apple and the NFL were close to deals that would see Apple streaming Thursday night NFL games. That, of course, did not pan out.
Whatever happens, it certainly sounds like Apple is very serious about adding live sports coverage to Apple TV+ — but only as long as it can get the right deals.
If you don’t already subscribe to Apple TV+, would you sign on if it offered sports coverage? Let us know in the comments below.