Apple Opinion Premier League

The House View – Why might Apple enter the race for Premier League rights?

February 9, 2023

Last month, it was widely reported that Apple TV are going to enter the bidding war for the next round of English Premier League TV rights that will be going out for tender towards the back end of this year. Is this for real or just a rumour? Let’s look at some of the facts.

The American tech giants have already made some moves into sport with a 10-year MLS deal that starts next year – was that just them whetting their appetite to grab a part of the action on this side of the pond and get into sport on a global rather than a regional basis?

If the plan is to get into sport in a major way then the Premier League is clearly one of those crown jewel rights packages so it would be strange that a global company such as Apple would leave this as a US sporting play and would therefore be taking a far bigger global approach to sport. And no sport is bigger globally than soccer/football. Of course the NFL is just one elephant in the room and even the IPL audiences are worth keeping an eye on but neither attract genuine global eyeballs. But I think all of the above misses the point of Apple’s strategy…

There is no doubt that Apple has deep enough pockets that they are more than able to compete in this space. 

One thing is for sure they won’t be lacking for options when it comes to which rights to go after. Live Premier League rights are split into seven packages. In the current cycle Sky own four of them broadcasting 128 matches. BT Sport own two of them, broadcasting 50 games a season. Amazon Prime picked up Package F and show 20 games every campaign. Then there’s delayed rights with Sky showing match replays in full later on in the day and obviously Match of the Day running on Saturday and Sunday nights every weekend of the season. Then there’s the clips. Sky currently own these rights and upload three-minute highlights of every Premier League match a matter of moments after the referee blows the final whistle.

Sky is in at least 12 million homes in the UK according to and only 8 percent of households have Apple TV according to Finder. A figure that hasn’t moved since 2019. Although the Apple TV app is already available on Sky’s EPG (Electronic program Guide) there could also be interesting possibilities around Apple doing some form of deal with Sky that would mean Apple TV becomes embedded and visible on more devices  as well. It would be complicated but aggregation, or re-aggregation, is still the likely end goal as it’s impossible for consumers to continually be asked to sign up for yet more platforms

Away from Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery completed their acquisition of BT Sport back in September, they are another company with deep pockets that could be looking at acquiring more than their current 52 games. Additionally the recent news about DAZN and the NFL GamePass International is really exciting as DAZN make their move towards the title of the “Netflix of Sport”

For what it is worth, I don’t think Apple are likely to come in and try to take over from Sky as the Premier League’s main broadcaster, I would wager they have their eye on taking BT Sport’s share or even trying to carve out a niche package similar to Amazon Prime’s.

I don’t believe Apple would be able to make commercial sense through an increase in subscriptions or advertising to make the numbers work were they to take Sky’s position. Apple will use the MLS as an experiment to understand the experience and gather the data and they may well do the same with the Premier League rights. But I believe it is no more than a small stepping stone rather than an outright play into sport. I don’t think there are any plans for Apple to make a major move in sport but instead they have the ability to play the long game and learn from small stakes.

But one thing is for certain the clubs will be licking their lips at another major player entering the race for rights. Whether this is actually good for the sport is questionable given the richness of the Premier League versus all their rival leagues. Sport needs competition so this might even enhance support for some form of European Super League. It’s a complex old space.

By Sandy Case, CEO of iSportConnect

Apple Opinion Premier League