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Apple pulls out of NFL Sunday Ticket negotiations

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Apple is no longer pursuing digital rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, according to two reports.

The reports claim Apple executives didn’t “see the logic” of continuing to pursue streaming rights for the out-of-market football package.

The package has largely been available exclusively to satellite platform DirecTV, with a companion streaming service largely limited only to those whom DirecTV could verify were unable to set up a satellite dish due to living in a multi-unit apartment building, obstacles like trees, or for other reasons.

DirecTV’s deal with the NFL expires next year, and the league has signaled interest in moving the package to a streaming service in order to reach more viewers across different platforms.

Early on, Apple was said to be one of the many companies expressing interest in NFL Sunday Ticket. With Apple dropping out, the front-runners are currently Amazon Prime Video and Google’s YouTube services.

Putting the NFL Sunday Ticket on either service would not be unexpected: Amazon already has national distribution rights to the NFL’s Thursday evening games, while Google’s pay television service YouTube TV offers NFL Network, NFL RedZone, ESPN and local NBC, CBS and Fox stations and affiliates to millions of streaming customers.

According to The Athletic, the NFL is hoping to get about $3.5 billion for the multi-year rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, which provides out-of-market access to games played on local CBS and Fox stations and affiliates on Sunday mornings and afternoons.

Apple is not pulling out of sports completely: The company currently has deals in place with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer to provide live matches of games from both sports over the next few years.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).