After months of negotiations, Apple reportedly exits the running for NFL Sunday Ticket package

Apple has reportedly pulled out of negotiations for the NFL Sunday Ticket package, after originally being considered the frontrunner, according to Dylan Byers at Puck News.

Earlier in the year, it seemed like Apple was nearing a deal with multiple reports of top Apple execs Eddy Cue sweet-talking NFL heads at meetings, having already struck sports streaming deals with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. But as talks dragged on with the NFL, Apple appeared to balk back at some of the contract’s limitations.

Cable provider DirecTV is the current owner of the NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives subscribers access to all NFL American football out-of-market games on Sundays. However, DirecTV is not renewing its deal.

This means Sunday Ticket will have a new partner beginning in 2023. Apple, Amazon, Google (YouTube) and others have supposedly shown interest. A deal is expected to be worth between $2.5 billion – $3 billion annually.

While Apple chased a deal for much of the summer, Byers says that ultimately “Apple don’t see the logic” in closing a deal at that level.

Reported restrictions on the deal include lack of international rights, geographic blackouts, and an enforced minimum subscription price such that the NFL doesn’t cannabilize its existing broadcast deals with CBS and Fox.

Contrast this with Apple’s partnership deal with Major League Soccer, for instance, which will see every MLS game stream on the Apple TV app for the next decade, with no regional blackouts of any kind, available in more than 100 countries and multiple languages.

Apple and MLS will also collaborate on marketing, including an Apple TV logo on every MLS team jersey, and other production enhancement features. Apple is paying about $250m per year for the MLS rights. MLS Season Pass begins February 2023, priced at $14.99/mo or $12.99/mo for Apple TV+ subscribers.

It’s a much more appealing proposition, albeit with a sports property that is an order of magnitude less popular than the NFL.

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