Exploring Apple's Potential Interest In Sports Rights In The Future
Attendees at Day 1 of the Endeavor Streaming Sports Media & Technology conference were treated to a chat during lunch about the future of Apple with the Wall Street Journal’s Tripp Mickle, who -- following a long stint with SBJ -- now covers the tech giant at the paper. Just days after the launch of Apple TV+, Mickle discussed the company’s streaming aspirations and a possible foray into sports rights. Apple has $200B in cash on the books, but Mickle says NFL rights may still be a little too rich. He compared Apple to late Walmart Founder Sam Walton: "They have all the money, but are still driving a beat-up pickup truck. If they did leap into the sports world, it would probably be something with a broader appeal. Would sports be palatable for the Chinese marketplace and government? The NBA? Could you partner with Tencent or Baidu and bring the NBA to a larger market? That may make sense."
CAN YOU SEE IT? Mickle noted Apple is looking at an AR/VR product in '22 and could be more inclined to step up for sports rights at that time. "Samsung and others have used sports to make AR and VR products resonate with people," he said. "The idea of sitting in the living room with something like an Apple version of the Oculus Rift on and feeling like you’re in the front row ... would be cool. I could see that making sense and I could see Apple having a more defined approach to its media strategy and a better feel for what it wants from sports."
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: Mickle reminded attendees that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs talked to Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger about buying the company, but that talks never resumed with Apple following Jobs' death. Instead, Apple has gone down a path of selling and renting content from other studios and, so far, remains intent on creating its own shows for its new streaming service. Mickle: "This company exerts tremendous control over everything it does. If you make content, you can control the brand. When you go on the Apple TV+ app, you see Apple Originals instead of buying MGM and showing James Bond movies on repeat."