ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports that Apple may be about to jump into College Football:
Sources: The primary deal presented to Pac-12 executives/ADs today was an primarily Apple streaming deal. The deal would have incentivized tiers, which would give it strong upside if certain subscriptions numbers are met.
This is all still preliminary, and subject to change. The Pac-12—which is teetering on the brink of dissolution if it doesn’t get a good TV deal—is apparently talking to Apple about putting its games on Apple TV+. (There would, presumably, be some purchase of marquee games for a linear network like ESPN, Fox, or even TBS/TNT.)
What’s interesting is the idea of “incentivized tiers,” which would not be particularly great for the conference members but sounds suspiciously like the deal Apple and MLS did with Lionel Messi, where he reportedly will receive a cut of MLS subscriptions driven by his arrival at Inter Miami.
The Pac-12’s currently precarious position aside—it’s only got 9 members as of this writing, and more are on the fence, possibly prepared to jump—the league is also the only major conference not currently under contract, which gives Apple an opportunity to make a deal to air actual American football games for the first time.
As journalist John Canzano just wrote:
Among the details that need to be unpacked: Is the Pac-12’s deal part of Apple TV+ or is it an add-on subscription like Apple has with the MLS? What would it be priced at if it is an add-on? What are the incentive numbers and when do they kick in? Is there an obligation to find a linear partner? Who produces the games — Apple, Pac-12 Network, somebody else? What is the reasonable expectation on revenue distribution? What is the term? Are there any outs for each partner?
Lots of questions. What doesn’t appear to be in doubt, though, is Apple’s interest in adding more sports TV to its portfolio.
Update: Here’s a good piece by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News:
Any chance to link arms with the richest, most influential, most innovative, savviest, smartest company in the world is something the Pac-12 should seriously consider, especially when that company is rapidly expanding its portfolio of sports properties and positioned to dominate the sports media landscape in the near future. But in this case, the details mean everything.
If the Pac-12 is to survive (and not be carved into bits by other conferences), the details of the deal with Apple matter… a lot.
—Linked by Jason Snell