Apple making 'audacious' multibillion-dollar NFL bid

From "Apple Eyes NFL Assets In Massive Billion-Dollar Deal" posted Friday on Front Office Sports:

Apple is exploring an audacious plan to scoop up the NFL’s available rights with a single, multibillion-dollar deal, sources tell Front Office Sports.

The NFL is currently fielding offers for three assets: an equity stake in NFL Media, the “NFL Sunday Ticket” package for out-of-market games, and livestreaming games on mobile devices.

Apple wants to bundle them all into one sweeping deal, said sources. That would instantly make the tech giant, which has long avoided sports, one of the NFL’s biggest business partners.

It would send a shot across the bow of rival Amazon, the frontrunner to buy up to 49% of NFL Media (which includes NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and — as well as create must-see content for Apple TV+, which doesn’t have much live programming.

“Apple is thinking very big. They want to roll them all up into one big NFL package,” said a source.

My take: I only watch one or two football games a season, but even I can see that this could be huge.


  1. It’s a peek into their ambitions. Willing to raise the ante and call Amazon or other bidders bluff. Years ago Verizon Wireless paid a huge amount for the rights to stream NFL games on smartphones. And splash the league’s logo on marketing materials. The NFL’s glimmer has gone off those shiny helmets lately but domestic & international fan base is massive. Sports betting helps. TBI and racial discrimination do not. Sort of a third rail but there’s 5G in every stadium.

    March 5, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. cash-rich giants like Apple may forgo the process of bidding for sports rights against linear networks — and simply buy their parent companies. That way, they simply inherit existing, long-term deals.”

    I find it difficult to believe that Apple would start buying up parent media companies to access sports rights since Apple never has shown similar affinity for spending large sums on acquiring tech companies. Apple prefers to do its own needle work and retain maximum control over its brand, culture and presentation of offerings. Buying up media organizations with their respective organizational structures, culture and managements seems antithetical to the way Apple does business. I do see and understand, though, Apple spending this kind of money for the sports content. Sports is the biggest audience draw for any entertainment in the country, attracting all ages and both women and men. Now with sports gambling opening full blown in many states the industry is set to grow even more. I believe Apple will nurture its way into this segment by bidding for sports rights and managing the process closely to ensure the continuity of integrity of the quality offering it presents to consumers.

    March 5, 2022
  3. Michael Goldfeder said:
    As both Thomas and Jerry have noted, the sports betting angle makes this “union” for Apple to obtain a 49% interest in the NFL media rights arm as a unique coup IMO. I like this opportunity from the standpoint of both the NFL and NBA have stakes in the gambling site; “Draft Kings.” While I’m not a bettor on sporting events, it appears these more current generations are, along with video games.

    The advent of “Fantasy Football Leagues” has given all of the viewers even more reason to watch NFL games as now they have serious money riding on the outcomes of multiple games each week along with their cadre of players selected on consumers individual teams set up through “Draft Kings.” With Apple becoming an actual minority owner of the NFL Media arm, I like this investment. No doubt the NFL will too considering the installed base of Apple products.

    Once again, Apple has proven the WS crowd wrong and are instead moving smartly into an area of huge growth, sports watching/betting, as opposed to buying a library of old tv shows and movies.

    March 5, 2022
  4. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    What’s described in the linked article would be a major pivot point for the NFL and Apple’s streaming efforts. We’ll be expanding coverage on this topic in the Apple 3.0 Slack group. Subscribers who have yet to join the Slack group, please ask Philip for an invitation. I’ve just posted instructions in the general channel of the Slack group for members on how to join many of the recently added channels. Please see the apple-products-and-services channel in the Slack group for expanded coverage on this topic. Thank you.

    March 5, 2022
  5. Fred Stein said:
    It’s hard o see Apple owning something they don’t control.

    As others, above, said. The biz case for Apple is compelling. Culture issues with large media in general, and NFL specifically, might hold Apple back.

    March 6, 2022
  6. Fred Stein said:
    There’s one reason for Apple to buy something in this package – 3D experiences.

    Regardless of when, what or how Apple expands from AR to VR/MR, Apple has the best deep tech stack for 3D experiences. Football may be that “killer App”.

    March 6, 2022
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Fred: I don’t know the feasibility out of the proverbial gate, but viewing an NFL game through Apple’s much-anticipated AR solution might be an incredibly immersive experience. For example, can you imagine viewing a game with real time game stats available on the lenses? I’m going to continue on this topic in the Apple 3.0 Slack group.

      March 6, 2022
  7. Miguel Ancira said:
    The only thing that makes me wonder is the fact that TC’s legacy is supposedly going to be in health.

    Unfortunately, that is a big problem the NFL has right now.

    March 6, 2022

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