To its TV offerings, Apple is looking to draw in more viewers. The TV offering includes the third-party app gateway Apple TV and original programming on Apple TV+. The company is having discussions with a wide variety of potential partners.
On Thursday, a Wall Street Journal identified two disparate entities, the Pac-12 conference, and MGM. This scenario makes Apple a player in live sports.
When contacting the companies involved in the project, they declined to comment, with the journal story citing only unidentified sources.
A licensing arrangement or a broader form of an acquisition of the privately held firm, for example, MGM, would give Apple something it doesn’t currently have – a library. The collection includes popular TV properties and assets, including premium network Epix and films like the James Bond franchise.
The Pac-12 conference includes USC and UCLA. It has licensed more than 100 marquee basketball and football games to Fox and ESPN. Also, it has a cable network. Any Apple involvement until 2024 is unexpected because the deal will not expire until that time. As the conference spent the past year in an active search for an equity partner, it is worth noting that the conversations with the tech giant occurred. The West Coast-based conference has lost ground to the Big 10 and SEC in recent years, while once a mainstay of college sports. It happened especially in football’s lucrative, four-team playoff system.
Apple and Business Dynamic
With a collection of originals like Dickinson and The Morning Show, Apple TV+ launched November 1. It was carrying a reported price tag north of 1 billion dollars. After the revamped Apple TV system, the $5-a-month streaming service hit the market. It has broken ground with deals of distribution with connected-TV companies like Samsung – a first for Apple. Streaming apps for CBS, Showtime, and a host of others are available via Apple TV. Apple is collecting a hefty service fee.
Apple’s head of services, Eddy Cue, in strategic discussions, has taken an active role.
Nevertheless, a colleague with a traditional media background, Peter Stern, also has something to say. Stern is the former Time Warner and McKinsey executive who had a long stint with Time Warner Cable. He is in the head of growing Apple’s businesses via news, books, iCloud, ad, and video services. Most of the people familiar with this topic believe that Stern is having discussions to widen the profile of Apple TV+ by following a familiar playbook. It is because of his time in traditional MVPD trenches.
The company approached the Apple TV+ service as a virtual MVPD and tried to strike carriage deals, says the one senior involved in streaming. With Sony shutting down and throwing in the towel with PlayStation Vue earlier this year, Virtual MVPDs like Sling TV and AT&T TV Now have lately been struggling. So, Apple is starting to pivot and thin more about on-demand. They haven’t yet thrown the kitchen sink at the likes of Netflix or Amazon.
For Apple, the business dynamic is a new twist. The company has long controlled systems or devices and made marketing or content deals with specific creators — for example, licensing deals for Beatles or Bob Dylan catalogs in the past.