At the tail end of last year, the world found itself in the grips of World Cup 2022 fever. Despite early concerns over the effect a winter tournament would have on the domestic schedule, and over socio-political issues in the host nation, Qatar, a record-breaking 5.4 billion viewers tuned in across the tournament.
In the days leading up to the tournament, tech giants, Apple, announced a partnership with the MLS – the main league in the USA. Dubbed the MLS Season Pass, the subscription service would offer full-access to every single MLS fixture via the Apple TV app.
It's the beginning of a ten-year partnership which aims to bring the MLS to a wider audience. And, with the package set to offer every fixture within one subscription, it's being viewed as a semi-utopian insight into what football fans in the UK have been crying out for.
Many supporters feel that the current model – with games spread around Sky Sports, BT Sports and Amazon Prime – offers little in the way of value-for-money. Even fans who are willing to shell out for every package don't get the full complement of games.
Now, Apple have signalled their intent to expand into Premier League coverage. Fair warning – the report comes from the Daily Mail, so take it with a pinch of salt until other sources can confirm the news.
They state that, with the current Premier League coverage deal set to expire in 2025, new talks will be held later this year. And Apple are keen to get in on the deal, with a view to expanding their football offering to a more mainstream audience.
So, are we finally going to get an all-in-one streaming solution for the Premier League? Not likely. Apple's partnership with the MLS covers ten seasons and is reportedly valued at $2.5 billion overall. The current Premier League rights package is more than double that for just three years of partial coverage.
What's more, the buyout of Premier League football won't come easily. Sky Sports have held Premier League broadcast rights since the 1992 season, and are unlikely to give them up without a fight.
If Apple do get into Premier League football, I think it would be more in-keeping with the Amazon Prime way of doing things. Amazon takes a handful fixtures – usually around Boxing Day and New Years Eve – and offers coverage of everything through their Prime platform. They even offer a split-screen view for when multiple games are happening simultaneously. It's a format that has proved extremely popular with fans.
With negotiations over a new deal set to take place later this year, expect to hear more in the coming months.