Apple is close to securing a major deal with FIFA to acquire global streaming rights to the 2025 Club World Cup in the United States. If finalized, it would mark Apple’s latest high-profile move into live sports broadcasting after inking deals with Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, and others. But the Club World Cup is just an appetizer – the real question is what bigger competitions Apple may target next in its quest to make Apple TV a dominant platform for streaming sports worldwide.

First, let’s get what likely will not make it on Apple’s service – the English Premier League. As Apple’s services chief Eddy Cue explained, for Apple’s level of investment, obtaining global rights is crucial since they operate in every country. Premier League deals are negotiated on a nation-by-nation basis, making it improbable Apple could obtain true worldwide exclusivity. Similar roadblocks exist for other top European domestic leagues. So, it’s safe, for the time being, to take top European domestic leagues off the table.

Is the World Cup out of sight for Apple?

One potential prize for Apple could be future World Cup rights. Despite FIFA’s traditional insistence that the tournament has a free-to-air television offering. With the continued fragmentation of TV viewership and rise of streaming, that long-held policy may be due for revision, opening the door for a deep-pocketed streamer like Apple to make an exclusive play for World Cup 2030 or 2034 rights – at the right price, of course. 

If not the World Cup or Europe’s biggest domestic leagues, what other major competitions could entice Apple?

Other global streaming rights on the table for Apple

One possibility is the UEFA Champions League rights, which are currently shared by Paramount+, Univision, and others in the U.S. market. Securing exclusive global streaming rights, when they become available again, could allow Apple to capture the viewership around the world’s elite club competition featuring giants like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and more.

Apple could also look to supplement its MLS deal by going after international rights for elite South American club competitions. For example, the Copa Libertadores is a sensible fit for Apple. These tournaments have passionate global followings. This is particularly true among the large Latino diaspora audiences of key markets like the United States. Adding the Libertadores and other top South American club tournaments to its portfolio allows Apple to market itself as the streaming home of elite club soccer across the Americas.

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Similarly, Apple may target global rights packages for Asia’s top leagues and competitions like the AFC Champions League, Chinese Super League, J-League and more. These could hold appeal not just for audiences across Asia, but also diaspora viewers worldwide – including the lucrative market of South Asians in regions like the Middle East, the UK, Canada and others.

Finally, we have all the competitions from the African continent. Currently, the top club competitions such as the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup belong to beIN SPORTS in the US. Earlier this year, the big competition in Africa, the Nations Cup, ended up on YouTube worldwide. This is the type of streaming arrangement Apple looks for.

The Competition

Any of these potential rights acquisitions wouldn’t come cheap – the competition from other deep-pocketed streamers and broadcasters is intense. Apple’s play for any of these rights draws competing bids from Amazon. Akin to Apple, Amazon has built a major presence in soccer through its current deals. Other tech giants like Google, Facebook and Netflix may enter the fray for each set of rights.

Apple’s vast cash reserves give it arguably unlimited spending power. Yet, the company is also famously judicious with major acquisitions or investments. CEO Tim Cook will need convincing that any nine or ten-figure global rights deal would sufficiently help. That includes boosting Apple TV+ subscriptions, hardware sales and service bundle adoption to justify the cost.

Ultimately, Apple seems motivated to obtain worldwide rights that can drive value across its entire global user base. The fragmented European domestic leagues do not fit Apple’s eye. Going after worldwide rights for other top-tier competitions can accelerate the media conglomerate’s ascension into sports streaming. The same goes for non-soccer properties like international cricket or niche favorites like F1.

Apple has the FIFA Club World Cup and MLS/MLB deals in hand. There is enough content to begin seriously marketing Apple TV+ as a sports-centric streamer. Regardless, bigger game remains to be hunted if the technology titan wants to become the true global sports streaming destination. The chase is underway – and Apple’s willingness to spend big puts every major competition squarely in its sights.