The Premier League’s live UK rights for 2010-13 raised £1.782bn when they were sold to Sky Sports and ESPN UK during the summer of 2009. The next set of TV rights that will be up for bidding will be the 2013-2016 rights, which will commence bidding this spring and end this summer.
Here’s what The Daily Mail said regarding Apple’s interest:
“The Premier League is seen as the type of premium content that will help establish Apple TV in the UK and boost iPad sales, while the iTunes subscription service infrastructure is already in place.
The involvement of Apple – and their great multimedia rivals Google are also expected to make similar soundings – would give the PL a hugely competitive market at a time when the price of other TV sports rights are in decline.”
The UK TV rights to the Premier League are hotly contested especially since it’s the flagship programming for Sky. In addition to interest from Apple and ESPN UK, The Daily Mail reports that Middle East network Al Jezeera is also interested in bidding.
While Apple TV has yet to take off in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, there have been a lot of rumors regarding Apple possibly introducing an Apple television set with Apple TV built into it sometime this year. Having the Premier League available to customers in the United Kingdom would definitely make Apple TV, no matter whether it’s a device or TV set, a much more attractive item.
But what if Apple was also interested in bidding for the TV rights to showing the Premier League in the United States when they’re set to expire at the end of the 2012-13 season? The growing interest in the Premier League in the United States, as seen by the record 1.67 million who watched a tape-delayed game in November, shows that there is a market stateside. And having Apple outbid FOX Soccer and ESPN for the convenience of showing all Premier League games live on one device would be very convenient. Currently, residents in the United States have to subscribe to FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus (or FOXSoccer.tv), ESPN2 and ESPN3.com to guarantee that they won’t miss a single live game.
The other benefit of having Premier League TV rights available via Apple TV would be that soccer fans could become cord cutters, getting rid of their TV provider subscriptions. Soccer fans could save a ton of money by subscribing directly to a Premier League TV package on iTunes instead of having to pay for a cable or a satellite subscription where they get hundreds of channels they don’t watch and have to pay for sports packages just to get FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus, ESPN and GolTV.
An additional benefit of having an Apple TV subscription to live Premier League matches is that soccer fans can guarantee HD streaming, as long as they have a broadband connection. In 2010, FOX Soccer launched in HD on DISH Network and DirecTV, as well as selected cable companies, but two years later the majority of soccer fans are still waiting for their cable company to offer FOX Soccer HD. The same applies to FOX Soccer Plus, which many soccer fans in the United States are still waiting for their cable company to make available.
Apple buying the TV rights to the Premier League in the United States would be a good move for soccer fans in the United States. Whether it’ll happen or not, we’ll have to wait and see. Apple TV already offers NBA, MLB and NHL, so adding EPL could be something that’s on the cards.