Apple 'Ready to Spend Billions' on Live Sports Content Over Next Four Years

Apple is on an "aggressive hunt" for potential deals that would allow it to broadcast live sports content on its TV+ streaming service as part of a wider effort to boost subscription numbers, according to a new report from investment firm Wedbush.

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In a new investor note, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said he regards Apple's decision not to acquire a movie studio yet as a clear indication that it now sees live sports programming as potentially a key piece of its future success for growing the audience of its video streaming service.

Apple has not provided details on ‌Apple TV+‌ subscriber numbers since the digital streaming service began, but Wedbush estimates that ‌Apple TV+‌ has around 20 million paid subscribers among roughly 45 million viewers, the rest of which are seeing out free trials included with other Apple product purchases.

That's a fraction of the number of subscriptions that the likes of Disney+ and Netflix enjoys. Knowing this, Apple is apparently "ready to spend billions" on live sports content over the next four years to drive the future growth of ‌Apple TV+‌ and make it a key monetization engine in its burgeoning services ecosystem, which earned it $80 billion in annual revenue in the last financial year.

With Apple spending $7 billion annually on original content and having roughly $200 billion of cash on its balance sheet, we believe the company is gearing up to bid on a number of upcoming sports packages coming up for contract/renewals in future years. We note that upcoming sports packages potentially for bid over the next four years that Apple can be involved with (in some capacity/semi-exclusive) are: NFL (Sunday Night Ticket), Big Ten, Pac 12, Big East, Big 12, other NCAA sports packages (2024 timing), NASCAR, and the NBA/WNBA.

At the current time, ‌‌Apple TV+‌‌ does not offer support for any kind of live television, providing access only to on-demand television and movie content, so Apple will need to build in a new sports-oriented section with live TV streaming if it completes any deals.

Earlier this month, The New York Post reported that Apple has entered into discussions with Major League Baseball about a potential deal that would see the company broadcasting MLB games next season, which would represent a major foray into the world of live sports content.

Its current lack of live sports access remains a serious hole in Apple TV's programming, with competitors like Amazon already boasting established deals. For example, Amazon's 20 live English Premier League soccer games will return in the 2022/23 season, and the company has inked a deal to air "Thursday Night Football" games starting this fall, for which it paid more than $1 billion for the access.

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Top Rated Comments

GuilleA Avatar
33 months ago
But is it ready to spend billions on Siri and Apple Maps for the rest of the world? I don't give a **** about American football.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
syklee26 Avatar
33 months ago
Personally, I would love Apple to get NFL rights, but Worldwide rights for euro football will definitely do wonders to their subscribers numbers and probably better for Apple’s bottomline.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pakaku Avatar
33 months ago
If this means stripping out all of the incessant advertising during and between games, then by all means, please let this happen. Still can't wrap my mind around why sports are worth billions of dollars, though.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Moonjumper Avatar
33 months ago

Apple isn’t the same company they were 20 years and they shouldn’t be expected to. Are you suggesting that Apple should not take on new heights where they can capitalize on different parts of the industry? Look how they’re streaming services has turned out very successful. Expansion into various service offerings is a good thing. There more than just a ‘tech’ company.
I have not found Apple services to be very good compared to their hardware and software, and a sports deal does not have the same overlap with their hardware and software that their other services do. That is why I think it it so far from what made them great.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
33 months ago
This is a great graphic showing the top 100 most watched shows (not just sports) in America in 2021. All the darker-colored footballs (or egg-shaped handballs to others) are NFL broadcasts. Wow. The NFL 'owns' America. Baseball, Pro Basketball, Pro Hockey don't even make the list.

The AVERAGE game of American football gets 17 million viewers. (The Super Bowl gets over 100 million viewers)
Compare that to Premiere League Soccer which gets 0.4 million viewers on average.

In the United States, Apple is far better going after the NFL.



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Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
33 months ago
Why don’t they spend a few million on HomePod and Siri? Siri sucks and she sucks even harder on HomePod for some reason.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)