Gridiron Streaming Fight: Could Apple Beat Amazon To NFL Rights Carriage Deal?

Two of the largest technology companies in the world could be set to battle it out on the gridiron, with a new battle picking up for the rights to National Football League games.

What Happened: Apple Inc AAPL is exploring making a bid for the NFL rights in a multibillion-dollar deal, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

The National Football League is fielding offers for an equity stake in NFL Media, livestreaming games on mobile devices and the lucrative “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. Apple is said to be prepared to bid for all three items in one deal. Inc AMZN is considered the frontrunner by many to land the 49% stake in NFL Media, which includes the NFL Network, NFL RedZone and

The National Football League is also considering selling the three items as pieces to maximize the potential revenue, which could bring in around $2.5 billion for the league.

Walt Disney Co DIS is also considered to be a bidder on at least one of the three pieces offered by the NFL.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from some terrific media partners, technology partners that are interested in our content, interested in our platforms, interested in everything from Sunday Ticket to NFL Network to RedZone to a lot of media assets we still have available,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in December.

NFL Network reaches around 55 million U.S. homes, and NFL RedZone remains a popular television offering for fantasy football players and sports bettors, showing scoring drives across the league.

Related Link: Amazon Q4 Earnings Takeaways: Holiday Costs, Prime Price Hike, Stock Soars 

Why It’s Important: If Apple is able to land the NFL assets in one deal, it could quickly make the tech giant one of the NFL’s biggest partners and also push Apple into the category of biggest sports content carriers.

The home of hit shows like “Ted Lasso” and “The Morning Show,” AppleTV+ has not offered too much in the realm of live television or sports contests.

Apple has over $200 billion in cash, and pushing into sports content could help boost its AppleTV segment and grow subscriptions.

“If they are ultimately trying to drive a media business with AppleTV+, they’re going to have to make big bets on content. Having live sports, especially the NFL, is a significant marketing tool, a real differentiator,” technology executive Chris Bevilacqua told Front Office Sports.

Apple has also been rumored to be pursuing a media rights deal for Major League Baseball games.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives recently predicted that Apple will spend billions of dollars to gain valuable rights to sports content to help boost its media division.

Ives and Wedbush estimate that AppleTV+ has around 20 million paid subscribers and around 45 million total viewers.

Amazon has pushed further into sports content as a potential way to boost its Amazon Prime Video offerings and overall Amazon Prime memberships. The company has rights to some soccer content and other sports and landed a lucrative deal to broadcast “Thursday Night Football” games from the NFL.

Next year, Amazon will start its new contract as the first streaming service to have an exclusive package of NFL games, paying $1 billion per year for the “Thursday Night Football” rights.

Amazon reported recently that viewership for Amazon Prime Video hit a record for sports thanks to the “Thursday Night Football” games.

Sports rights have remained strong with viewership and advertising spending. Comcast Inc CMCSA, Fox Corp FOXFOXA and Paramount Global PARA PARAA also have deals in place with the NFL.

A potential bidding war between Apple and Amazon could be bad news for traditional sports media companies in the coming years as more rights deals come up for new bidders. 

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