Written by Adam Lyjak
For much of its existence, the Megatech company Apple has largely been known for their iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks. Their television service, Apple TV, came onto the scene a bit later in the company’s history, and the devotion to curating its expansion has recently been ever-present. As of March 2023, Apple has made it clear that it is considering a potential bid to enter the race for Premier League streaming rights in the United Kingdom (Fansler, 2023).
Located in England, the Premier League is by far the largest soccer league in the world. Critics often take aim at it, noting its perceived lack of quality and unsophisticated style of play, the continuous influx of foreign players and owners, and the consistent underperformance of its national team on the global stage. For one thing, the Premier League is known for playing at an extremely high pace and physical level. Top players from other European leagues often transfer to a Premier League team and take ample time to adjust to the nature of the English top flight. Regarding foreign owners, many English soccer fans disdain their increasing influence on football. Teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Newcastle United have been bought by rich business owners and prominent royal members of the United States and Middle Eastern countries, respectively. However, other top leagues, such as La Liga in Spain, the Bundesliga in Germany, and the Serie A in Italy, pale in comparison to the PL when it comes to revenue, media coverage, and team competition. Owen Poindexter puts it into perspective by comparing revenues from the top 5 leagues from the previous season, stating that “the top-flight English league’s combined revenues climbed to a record $6.2 billion in the 2021-22 season, nearly as much as the next two leagues combined” (Poindexter 2022). The majority of the league’s revenue is brought in through broadcasting fees, commercials and sponsorships, and matchdays.
The league’s current broadcasting deal in the United Kingdom involving Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon runs through 2025. This means that Apple would have to wait at least two years before even considering adding Premier League games to their television service repertoire. Apple’s sports televising portfolio is currently restricted to broadcasting select Major League Baseball games and Major League Soccer; however, the company’s interest in the Premier League and other professional leagues in England could expand its offerings. Apple’s partnership with MLS, which covers the entire league globally, clearly indicates the company’s willingness to invest in sports coverage. The 10-year deal between MLS and Apple is worth $250 million annually (Fansler 2023). Additionally, reports suggest that Apple is exploring the possibility of including college football in its live sports programming.
Some may question the significance of this matter and the reasoning behind the Premier League’s ambitions. The UEFA President, Alexsander Ceferin, cited, “before it was Uefa that was criticized, now it seems that it is the Premier League that is demonized and should be overthrown. Since the British government, supporters, and clubs said no to the Super League, the Premier League has been demonized and labeled a Super League in its own right that needs to be toppled” (Aarons, 2023). Additionally, Ceferin stated the failure of Premier League clubs to go far in European competitions as evidence that the league isn’t as dominant as they should be given their financial advantages over other leagues. But the league’s success is not accidental, with a sound marketing strategy employed around ‘sporting merit’ and a ‘highly egalitarian distribution of wealth’ (Aarons, 2023). Given this criticism, however, Apple’s quest for Premier League streaming rights is a logical attainment that could go a long way in improving the company’s success and diversifying its strongholds. Sports coverage is a massive part of the live-streaming industry all over the world. With Apple TV Plus looking to strengthen its streaming platform, it makes sense to expand its horizons and begin to stream sporting events in countries other than the USA. Although the company’s streaming service hasn’t covered real league matches yet, it is no stranger to soccer. Ted Lasso, one of its most infamous TV shows, is a comedy-drama that is centered around the sport. In fact, Apple recently agreed to a 500,000-pound deal with the Premier League to allow them to use league logos and other signage in the show (Volvoikar, 2023). This demonstrates the ever-increasing eagerness of tech giants to enter the sporting market.
Although there has been talk of tech giants entering the market and potentially changing the game, it has yet to materialize in a significant way. The current Premier League broadcasters will likely only become concerned if there is more concrete evidence of interest from these companies closer to the tender period. With a valuation of 30.3 billion dollars, as reported by Sportico in 2023, the Premier League presents a promising investment opportunity for Apple.
Fansler, K. (2023, March 23). Apple considers bidding for Premier League and EFL rights in UK. World Soccer Talk. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://worldsoccertalk.com/apple-considers-bidding-for-premier-league-and-efl-rights-in-uk-20230323-WST-424813.html
Poindexter, O. (2022, August 8). Premier League dominates soccer in revenue. Front Office Sports. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://frontofficesports.com/premier-league-dominates-soccer-in-revenue/
Dixon, E. (2023, January 16). Apple Circles Premier League domestic broadcast rights, says report. SportsPro. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.sportspromedia.com/news/apple-premier-league-tv-broadcast-streaming-rights-sky-bt-amazon/?zephr_sso_ott=BkFPk2#:~:text=Technology%20giant%20Apple%20is%20preparing,kick%20off%20later%20this%20year.
Akabas, L. (2023, January 24). EPL franchise Valuations Interactive Data viz. Sportico.com. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.sportico.com/feature/most-valuable-premier-league-teams-1234707271/
Guardian News and Media. (2023, April 5). Premier League being ‘demonised’ by European critics, claims UEFA’s ceferin. The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/apr/05/uefa-aleksander-ceferin-premier-league-european-super-league-juventus-real-madrid-barcelona
Volvoikar, P. (2023, January 14). Apple TV Plus to bid for streaming rights for the Premier League. iMore. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.imore.com/music-movies-tv/apple-tv/apple-tv-plus-to-bid-for-streaming-rights-for-the-premier-league