Apple has held talks with Bundesliga executives regarding rights to the top-flight German league, sources familiar with the matter have told World Soccer Talk.

Currently, ESPN has an exclusive rights deal with the Bundesliga through until the end of the 2025/26 season. ESPN’s partnership with the Bundesliga, which began in 2020 as a streaming-only rights deal in the United States, paved the way for Apple to sign its 10-year streaming-only deal with MLS. Reportedly, the ESPN deal with the Bundesliga is worth $30 million per year.

Bundesliga’s ability to prove that a streaming-only model works recently paid dividends again. In Canada, streaming service DAZN acquired the Bundesliga rights through 2026.

The expiration dates for both the US and Canadian media rights deals line up to end at the close of the 2025/26 season. But so do several other major Bundesliga media deals worldwide. Quite possibly, the Bundesliga and Apple may be interested in a deal that includes more than just the US and Canada.

Apple and Bundesliga could help expand German league’s reach

Apple’s interest in the German Bundesliga is part of an effort by the tech giant to expand its live sports offering. While talks between Apple and Bundesliga are preliminary, according to our sources, it does indicate that the German league officials are keeping their options open for the next rights bidding.

World Soccer Talk has reached out to Apple for comment. A spokesman for the Bundesliga declined to comment.

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MLS and Apple partnership

Thus far, Apple’s partnership with MLS has been relatively successful. While unwilling to share any viewing numbers, sources have informed World Soccer Talk that MLS partners are satisfied with the Apple partnership. At the same time, MLS owners are excited about Messi’s pending arrival, but also feeling like they’ve been left in the dark about how the deal is structured.

No doubt, Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami is going to generate more interest in MLS Season Pass. In the rights deal, MLS gets a minimum guarantee of $250 million per season from Apple.

But could a similar streaming subscription service produce results with the Bundesliga on Apple TV? Fans of Bundesliga clubs are loyal, and interest in the league continues to grow. It features some of the best television production in world soccer, and the league runs like clockwork. Certainly there’s room for growth worldwide, but the German league does face some tough competition.

Regardless, if Apple did sign a rights deal with the Bundesliga in the next few years, one advantage is that the partnership could benefit from the mistakes made with MLS Season Pass. Apple has made considerable improvements to the MLS Season Pass experience since launching. Those changes such as hiding scores would benefit future soccer deals.

An Apple and Bundesliga partnership may be a match made in heaven, but certainly the next rights deal is at least eighteen months away from getting serious. In that time, there’s plenty of other media giants who may be circling overhead to expand their offerings.

Photo: Imago