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Apple Wants Maximum Reach, No Limits For Live Sports Rights

  • Apple's lead sports executive said global rights are most attractive to the company.
  • The first season of an exclusive deal with MLS has Apple thinking even bigger.
Apple TV signage on the sidelines of an MLS match.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to acquiring more live sports rights, Apple’s ambitions appear limitless.

Apple senior vice president of services Eddy Cue pushed back on the idea of buying a package of Premier League rights that would be limited to a specific country or region. 

“We’re a global company,” Cue explained in an interview with the Daily Mail. “We have customers in every country in the world … and it’s not exciting for me to have something that you can have but you can’t have.”

Apple is in its first season of a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal for MLS rights worldwide. 

Cue’s comments corroborate Apple’s thought process as it negotiated for rights to NFL Sunday Ticket last year. That package would’ve been exclusive to U.S. viewers, but in order to attract more customers, Apple was thought to have wanted to offer the service for a lower price — or even free alongside an Apple TV+ subscription.

The NFL wanted NFL Sunday Ticket to remain a premium product and sold it for an annual $2 billion to Google, which is charging up to $489 for the product on Youtube TV.

“I can’t justify throwing what I think are the best engineers in the world on a small subset product,” Cue added. 

What does that mean for other properties interested in partnering with Apple, like the NBA or Pac-12?

“This isn’t ‘Hey, I’ve got an opening from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight, and I’m going to put this game on,’” Cue said. “That’s not the way we’re doing it. We’re all-in on this from an investment point of view, so it doesn’t work unless it’s something significant.”

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