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Apple Music Lands Super Bowl Halftime Show; Is NFL Sunday Ticket Next?

Matt Tamanini

Apple has made its position well known, it would like to gobble up all of the NFL's remaining media rights to officially establish itself as a force in the rapidly expanding world of live sports streaming. While this wasn’t necessarily what most onlookers expected to be the first announcement of an Apple and NFL partnership to be released this fall, Apple Music has become the official sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show after Pepsi decided not to renew its sponsorship deal over the summer.

The Sports Business Journal reported on Friday that the tech company has agreed to a five-year, $50 million per year deal to secure the naming rights to the annual intermission extravaganza. SBJ reports that the halftime show is generally the most watched portion of the entire Super Bowl broadcast, with 120 million people tuning in for February’s performances by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.

“Music and sports hold a special place in our hearts,” Apple’s VP for Apple Music and Beats Oliver Schusser said, “so we’re very excited Apple Music will be part of music and football’s biggest stage.”

Once the NFL realized that Pepsi was not going to renew its naming rights, it began looking to partner with a company that could turn the platform into a year-round opportunity, rather than just a sponsorship for the 12-minute concert. This philosophy also seems to be consistent with what the NFL is looking for in a home for Sunday Ticket.

Over the summer, the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell said that he believed that the wildly popular out-of-market package would end up on a streaming service. While Apple has long been considered the favorite, given Prime Video’s early successes as the exclusive home for “Thursday Night Football,” Amazon shouldn’t be considered out of the running yet either. Reports even indicate that Google has entered the conversation, hoping to put the games on YouTube.

While Sunday Ticket is the holy grail of sports rights, Apple is looking to land much more than that in its negotiations with the NFL. Apple is looking to bundle all of the currently available rights to NFL properties, including the streaming rights for games on mobile devices currently found on NFL+, as well as an equity stake in NFL Media, the company behind NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and NFL.com.

The Sunday Ticket rights alone are expected to fetch between $2 and $3 billion annually, so whatever the price tag would be for Apple land all of the outstanding rights would be significant. However, as the tech giant looks to fully integrate itself into the world of sports broadcasting, there would be no better way for it to fully announce its arrival.

Having begun broadcasting Major League Baseball games every Friday this season and preparing to take over the Major League Soccer rights next year, if Apple was to secure Sunday Ticket and the rest of the NFL’s available properties, the company would immediately become perhaps the biggest platform in streaming.

A deal with Apple — given its impressive tech track record — might be appealing to the league after Sunday Ticket’s long-time home DIRECTV has struggled in the first two weeks of the season to deliver a consistent streaming feed to customers, going as far to issue refunds and public apologies.

An announcement is expected sometime this fall about the NFL Sunday Ticket’s new home for the 2023 season, and while Apple is far from the only contender to land the package, it is clear that the tech company’s commitment to live sports — and the NFL specifically — is very real.

NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Sunday Ticket is a subscription video streaming service that allows football fans to watch every live out-of-market NFL game on Sunday afternoons. It is included free for new DirecTV subscribers (allowing streaming through the NFL Sunday Ticket App), or it can be purchased as a standalone streaming product if you live in a dorm or apartment without access to the satellite version of NFL Sunday Ticket.

Unlike NFL RedZone, which bounces from game to game, Sunday Ticket is superior for fans who want to see every play of their favorite teams, even if they don’t live where the games are locally televised.

Sunday Ticket offers three plans: the Student Plan for $99.96 / año, the To Go Plan for $293.96 / año, and the Max Plan for $395.99 / año.

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