NFL Sunday Ticket package may already be headed Apple's way

Apr. 18, 2022 1:46 PM ETApple Inc. (AAPL)AMZN, DISBy: Jason Aycock, SA News Editor66 Comments

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In the long-running saga of which media company gets the prime NFL Sunday Ticket games package, the lucrative rights could likely still be on their way to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), if not there already.

Satellite provider DirecTV held those out-of-market game rights for decades, but its deal expires after the 2022 season, and it's widely expected not to compete for the rights again. The company was divested from AT&T in August 2021, and was paying an average of $1.5 billion a year to the NFL under the current deal with the league.

Now, according to Puck Editor Matthew Belloni, sources say "It's Apple's to lose, at this point." Belloni said that one source told him, "that the deal is actually done and is being kept quiet at Apple’s request," but that any deal has yet to be officially confirmed. Apple (AAPL) has so far made no public comment on the DirecTV Sunday Ticket issue.

In September, The Athletic reported that the NFL was leaning toward Apple TV+ (AAPL) for Sunday Ticket, bucking some conventional wisdom that the package would move from DirecTV to ESPN (DIS -2.1%), or recently aggressive rights buyer (AMZN +0.7%).

If Apple is the buyer, it will be paying way more than DirecTV's $1.5 billion a year, with expectations settling around $2.5 billion. That possible amount is seen as making it increasingly unlikely that DirecTV won't be part of any future Sunday Ticket deal. And Disney (DIS) and Amazon (AMZN) already have some NFL exclusives, Belloni notes, which argues favorably for Apple (AAPL).

More recent reports have suggested that Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) are front-runners for Sunday Ticket, acing out ESPN in the hunt.

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