Report: Apple drops out of race for NFL Sunday Ticket, leaving Amazon and Google as finalists

Jonathan Sherman
4 Min Read
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the increasingly expensive and lucrative business of sports broadcasting, it appears as though Amazon and Google will duke it out for ownership of NFL Sunday Ticket after Apple dropped out of the race.

“The companies that can afford to pay sky-high prices for sports are, of course, the big tech firms,” Dylan Byers of Puck reported. “So with each new round of rights negotiations we’re going to see Apple, Amazon, and Google take a greater slice of the pie while legacy mediacos get boxed out. You mentioned ESPN; the current bidding war for NFL Sunday Ticket is a perfect example of an area where they just can’t compete anymore, because they can’t justify the expense. I’m now told that Apple, once seen as a frontrunner for the rights, has also backed out of those negotiations — not because they can’t afford it, but because they don’t see the logic. So it’s down to Amazon and Google, and there’s certainly a logic there for both companies: Amazon can use it to drive Prime subscriptions; Google can use it to fuel its YouTube TV business.”

As it stands, the NFL’s current out-of-market package deal with DirecTV will come to an end next month. It marks a major shift in the NFL broadcasting market, as DirecTV has been the sole official issuer of out-of-market games since Sunday Ticket’s inception in 1994.

Obviously, whoever ends up winning the bidding war is going to get one of the most valuable streaming products on the market. The NFL remains one of the most commonly watched products on television, with millions of people tuning in each week.

Though the opportunity to land NFL Sunday Ticket is, of course, a big deal, the NFL is also under a lot of pressure to make sure that it gets the deal right on its end as well. The league is not only looking to get the richest deal possible, but also likely wants to make sure that whatever company it partners with will be able to offer the accessibility and quality that fans expect.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently offered an update regarding the talks.

“I would say it’s in a very critical point for us,” Goodell said. “We’ve had a lot of interest in this, and we continue to. Our decisions are not based on timelines. They’re based on it being the best outcome with the best party.”

It will be interesting to see how the news of Apple dropping out impacts the ongoing talks. Apple remains the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of over $2.1 trillion. However, Google ($1.2 trillion) and Amazon ($896.3 billion) are still major economic players.

Surely, the NFL would like to get a deal done in the relatively near future. Only time will tell which tech giant comes out on top with this premier property.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.