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In an exclusive interview, Apple’s services chief, Eddy Cue, has effectively quashed speculations about the tech giant’s alleged pursuit of the English Premier League broadcasting rights for its streaming service, Apple TV+. Reports of Apple’s interest in securing these rights date back to 2012, and earlier this year, Bloomberg brought to light the company’s considerations for streaming not only the Premier League but also lower league matches from the English Football League on Apple TV+.
The decision to abandon the idea of bidding stems from Apple’s inability to obtain global rights for the Premier League matches. Apple had sought a deal similar to the historic ten-year agreement it secured for broadcasting Major League Soccer (MLS) worldwide. Cue clarified the rationale behind this move, emphasizing the significance of global accessibility for Apple’s diverse customer base:
“While exclusivity is important, global rights are of paramount importance to us. As a global company with customers in every corner of the world, it’s not exciting to offer content that’s available only in specific regions.”
Cue also highlighted the substantial engineering resources that Apple has invested in its streaming product. The company aims to provide innovative features, such as MLS 360, which offers live look-ins from every match, and multi-viewing of games—an ambitious endeavor not easily replicated in other environments. For Cue, this level of investment demands a strategic partnership rather than a limited subset deal:
“We can’t justify dedicating our best engineers to a small-scale product. It needs to be a significant offering to match our substantial investments. We’re all in on this as an investment perspective, and it won’t work unless it’s something substantial.”
In the past, bidding wars have unfolded among broadcasting giants like Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime Video for the rights to Premier League matches, with Sky Sports often dominating. Although Amazon has been ramping up its bidding efforts in recent years, the packaging terms ensure that no single broadcaster gains exclusive rights to all Premier League matches. This situation means that any potential deal with Apple would inevitably fall short of the exclusivity the company achieved with MLS.
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When asked about Apple’s interest in other sports leagues like UEFA or the NBA, Cue left the door open, but with a caveat. He expressed skepticism about pursuing deals restricted to specific countries or limited subsets of countries, reiterating Apple’s preference for offering content with global appeal. For Cue and Apple, any new venture must complement their current flagship product, the MLS deal, as they seek to make it a resounding success:
“If we explore other opportunities, they won’t be secondary; they’ll be additional number ones that we want to invest in. That’s the difference we bring to the table.”
Apple has been strategically venturing into sports content to bolster its Apple TV+ streaming service and attract a broader audience. With deals already signed for Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer, Apple’s push into sports entertainment seems set to continue. The company has also expressed interest in securing an NBA streaming package, showing a keen commitment to enhancing its streaming service’s content offering.