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Report: Apple circles Premier League domestic broadcast rights

Technology giant preparing to challenge Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon for top soccer property.

16 January 2023 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Premier League’s current UK£4.8bn deal runs until end of 2024/25
  • Tender process for next cycle to start later this year
  • Apple’s entry could drive up stagnant rights fee

Technology giant Apple is preparing a bid for the next set of domestic Premier League broadcast rights, according to the Daily Mail.

The league’s current deal with Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon for live games runs from 2022/23 to 2024/25, with the tender process for the next rights cycle to kick off later this year.

The existing UK£4.8 billion (US$6 billion) pact was signed after Premier League clubs unanimously agreed a proposal to roll over the domestic deal, which saw the UK government add an Exclusion Order under the Competition Act 1998.

That meant English soccer’s top flight could conclude the renewals without conducting its normal broadcast rights tender process, a move made in light of the impact caused by Covid-19.

However, with the league moving on from the pandemic, the Daily Mail reports that teams with American owners feel that the current domestic contract is undervalued and hope US technology companies can drive up the price. 

SportsPro says…

The full extent of Apple’s interest is unclear, but snaffling rights from Sky Sports and BT Sport could represent the biggest shakeup to the Premier League’s domestic broadcast picture in decades.

One of the main reasons for that is Apple’s approach to its soccer coverage. The technology giant’s US$250 million per year global deal with Major League Soccer (MLS), which runs from 2023 until the end of 2032, will see every match offered through an exclusive new, league-dedicated subscription streaming service.

Given the report links the company with a domestic-only package, Apple may need to retool its all-encompassing rights acquisition model as it mulls an entry into the UK live sports market. Apple would ideally want more than a standard broadcast partnership, but has experimented with smaller packages – such as its deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) – and could target a select package in a move akin to Amazon.

Apple’s reported interest would certainly ruffle feathers with UK pay-TV networks Sky and BT, as well as Prime Video, with the Premier League gaining some leverage to drive up the new rights fee. In that regard, this report serves English soccer’s top-flight clubs nicely and perhaps should be taken with a pinch of salt.

We have heard about the potential ‘game-changing’ entry of the tech giants for a long time but so far this has happened only in a limited fashion. The existing Premier League broadcasters will only feel worried if we get more concrete evidence of interest closer to the tender period.

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