Apple has been approached by the NFL about acquiring the rights for the league’s Sunday Ticket package, Deadline has learned. Rights to the slate of games are currently held by DirecTV but would move to Apple TV+. The agreement with the AT&T-owned satellite TV provider is up after the 2022 season.
NFL Sunday Ticket currently allows viewers to watch any out-of-market NFL game on DirecTV, or via streaming for those who can’t get DirecTV. AT&T recently sold off 30% of the satellite operator to a private equity firm as a means of reducing its debt load. In announcing that transaction, the company noted the elimination of up to $2.5 billion in losses from Sunday Ticket.
It is unclear whether Apple will engage the idea in a meaningful way. Its market cap is 10X that of AT&T and even a deal as big as NFL rights would likely provide only incremental value to a company that, by one 2015 estimate, has more than enough money on hand to buy every major sports team in the U.S., if not the world.
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Other suitors include ESPN. Disney CEO Bob Chapek reiterated in mid-May that Disney remained in talks about the NFL Sunday Ticket package. Several other suitors have kicked the tires on that service.
In other NFL rights deals collectively worth more than $100 billion over their lifespans, the league in March reached 11-year rights extensions with existing TV partners and also new digital agreements. The new agreements will begin with the 2023 season and run through the 2033 season, but do not include the Sunday Ticket package.
Under the agreements, Fox, NBC, CBS and ESPN will retain weekly games, but ABC is re-entering the mix and Amazon Prime Video will take over Thursday night games from Fox.
The league did not comment on valuation but a person familiar with the terms told Deadline the haul exceeds $10 billion per year over the life of the contracts. That represents a jump of more than 75% from the prior set of deals struck nearly a decade ago. The league would likely expect a premium on any new Sunday Ticket agreement, as well.