Although it is not one of the four major sports leagues in North America, the English Premier League is the most watched sports league in the world with over 600 million viewers in over 200 countries worldwide. Iconic teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and the reigning champions, Manchester United, have formed bitter and exciting rivalries over the years.
In the United States, the broadcasting rights for the premiere football league—or “soccer,” as it is often called in the United States and Canada—currently belong to Fox Soccer and ESPN, while News Corporation’s Sky channel has exclusive TV rights in United Kingdom, the league’s home soil. So, where does Apple enter into all of this?
As tremendously successful as EPL has been, it’s not surprising that, according to The Daily Mail, Apple is considering bidding for streaming rights to broadcast the league’s games; by acquiring these rights, Apple could promote its Apple TV set-top TV box and boost iPad sales, all while making use of its preexisting iTunes subscription services. The Cupertino-based company will face some competition for the rights, however, as Sky, ESPN and Middle Eastern network Al Jezeera all want their hands on the EPL. The current rights belong to Sky, a package that cost News Corp. over $2.5 billion, and they are set to expire before the end of the 2011-12 season in May.
Computer giants Apple are showing interest in joining the billion-pound battle for the next set of live Premier League TV rights when the tender goes out before the end of the season.
The Premier League is seen as the type of premium content that will help establish Apple TV in the UK and boost iPad sales, while the iTunes subscription service infrastructure is already in place.