Apple caused a stir by buying the rights to the MLS, the American soccer league. Immediately, the company was also mentioned as a contender for the Premier League and the Premier League. The latter, however, the company let slip.
Apple initially focused only on movies, series and documentaries. By buying the rights to the NFL, MLB and MLS, it has now also become a serious player in the field of live sports games. However, the Premier League, England’s soccer league, does not seem to be in it.
Apple is not going for the Premier League
Apple was frequently mentioned as a party that could buy the rights to the Premier League. It would then broadcast the games via Apple TV+. Eddy Cue, the company’s senior vice president of Services, now reveals that he will not be bidding for the rights and explains why.
In fact, Apple was looking for the same kind of deal it has with the MLS. So that meant worldwide exclusivity for 10 years. Something the English clubs don’t want, because they think there’s more to get out of it.
Unlike the Eredivisie, for example, English soccer rights are distributed quite differently. Currently, three parties own the rights to broadcast live matches: Amazon Prime Video, BT Sports and Sky Sports. So if you want to follow the entire league, you need three subscriptions.
In addition, English soccer rights are popular all over the world. The Premier League therefore sells them per country to the highest bidder. In the Netherlands, for example, you only see that league through Viaplay.
The MLS at Apple. (Image: Apple)
Anything for exclusivity
All this makes it almost impossible for Apple to get that exclusivity, as is the case with the MLS. Eddy Cue says the following about that.
“I don’t like the word ‘exclusivity.’ It’s important, but not that important. Precisely the global rights are important to us. We are a global company and have customers everywhere. It’s not exciting for me to have something when the neighbor, for example, can’t.
Second, we also put a significant amount of technical resources into a product. For example, we want to add innovation in broadcasting soccer, such as in the MLS.
I can’t justify putting the best engineers in the world on a small sub-product when our investments should be high.”
“Too bad Ed, we won’t do it!” (Image: Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez / AFP)
With that, Cue also immediately sets the tone: “I never say no to the rights for a competition, but not if it’s just for a specific or a select number of countries. I doubt we would ever do that. We’re not a typical distributor. We don’t need to fill gaps in our offerings.”
Accordingly, Cue is very pleased with the rights to the MLS for Apple TV+. “This deal is our main priority. If we’re going to do the same kind of thing, it has to be just as good. For second place we won’t do it.”
Will the Eredivisie be on Apple TV+?
So that’s not going to work with a big league like the Premier League. With a minor league like the MLS, it will be possible. Therefore, it is not out of the question that Apple will also bid for a league like the Eredivisie.
Yet that doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment, as according to the latest rumors, only ESPN and a number of cooperating cable providers like Ziggo, KPN and Delta seem to be going for those rights.