Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally said they expected to close a deal for the prestigious Sunday Ticket package by this fall, the latest reports indicate that talks have slowed. Apple TV is known to be very interested in acquiring the rights to Sunday Ticket, and joining its existing stream of sports including Major League Soccer and MLB Friday Night Baseball.
The latest status update comes from the New York Times. The paper says the negotiations are now likely to continue into the next year. Despite some previous reports claiming otherwise, Apple has yet to finalize a deal, and Google (YouTube) has emerged as a strong competitor.
The value of Sunday’s final deal is expected to be in the range of $2.5 to $3 billion annually. The NFL’s current package partner, DIRECTV, is not renewing its license due to high costs. Realistically, the price tag means that only a big tech giant or streamer can afford it.
While Apple is still said to be in the works, the New York Times points to Google as the frontrunner to get the deal. Google is looking to use Sunday Ticket to boost its offering on YouTube TV, its online cable service.
One reason the talks have taken so long, the report says, is the NFL’s attempt to syndicate other assets such as the NFL Network and NFL RedZone Channel. Another obvious reason is that only a handful of NFL executives are involved in media negotiations, and they’ve been busy recently closing a deal for the NFL’s film division. Now that the movie deal is closed, the focus is once again back on Sunday Ticket.
A report from The Athletic over the weekend indicated that Apple and the NFL were discussing implications such as the inclusion of international sales rights and the nature of geo-blackening restrictions in the proposed Sunday Ticket contract. However, the NFL is not (or cannot because of existing contracts with broadcast/cable partners) willing to concede these points. The implication from The Athetlic was that Apple’s passion for the deal may have waned.
As one sign of the positive relationship between Apple and the NFL, though, Apple Music was recently announced as the sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.
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