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Apple TV+ Explores More Sports Carriage

Netflix shows no sign of wanting to stream sports. Perhaps that's because advertising, something it has avoided, is connected to that programming genre.

But Apple TV+ looks like it has no reservations. The premium streaming service from the giant tech company, is in discussions to strike a major deal with Major League Baseball to stream local market games.

All this could give Apple TV+ a better foothold in the streaming world where, to date, it has shown somewhat lackluster results in the entertainment content -- save for the hit series “Ted Lasso” and a few other critically acclaimed TV series.

More importantly, the sheer number of weekday local MLB games would give the streamer lots of high-profile sports content, which is a differentiator.

Overall, big legacy media platforms dominate with sports telecasts:

NBCU with Peacock; ViacomCBS with Paramount+; Fox with a number of streaming outlets; and ESPN/ABC with ESPN+. Vrtually all these networks have rights to place their biggest sports franchise -- the NFL -- on their related streaming platforms.

For example, in the just completed NFL season, the league has been crowing that overall interest in games -- the average game Nielsen-measure viewership -- has climbed 10% to 17.1 million. This coms after a pandemic-disrupted season a year ago, when there was a 8% drop in viewership.

Digging deeper, the NFL tells TV Watch that streaming viewing climbed 24% year-over-year to some 715,000 viewers per game, looking at all connected TV platforms. Yes, this is a drop in the bucket, compared to linear TV. Then again, these network-associated streamers do not have exclusivity of that content.

For MLB, Apple reportedly isn’t negotiating for exclusivity, either. Down the line, things might change. Consider that next year, Amazon will air “Thursday Night Football” games on a exclusive basis -- the first time the league has allowed a streamer to do this.

Apple understands this transition -- especially when it comes to providing more “services” to its devoted customers. After all, Apple Music has competitors. And its new Apple Fitness+ comes late to the party, versus the Peloton and other competitors.

Consumers want alternatives and options to all kinds of entertainment, media and sports. Getting into the game is a needed first step.

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