It was reported earlier this month that DirecTV was unlikely to retain the popular NFL "Sunday Ticket" out-of-market package after its deal with the league expires following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season, and that Amazon was considered "the front-runner" to land the service, even though Apple and Disney (ESPN) are also interested.
According to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, the NFL is keen on Apple winning the package, in part because the league already has working agreements with Amazon and ESPN. Amazon will become the exclusive home of "Thursday Night Football" broadcasts next season, and ESPN hosts multiple weekly "Monday Night Football" telecasts for at least the current campaign.
Additionally, Kaplan noted the new "Sunday Ticket" could allow fans to buy only one team's out-of-market games and also purchase weekly stand-alone contests. Currently, customers must purchase all out-of-market matchups.
"Apple is different from Amazon in the sense that they are still a technological device company," TV consultant and former Fox Sports executive Patrick Crakes told The Athletic about the NFL's reported desire to work with Apple. "So that diversifies the league — or the league’s always believed in an inclusive diversified kind of network mix. Apple is a different company than Amazon, even though people talk about them in the same breath. They’re very different. So I can see how the league might view that as a great diversification to their portfolio for the next decade."
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote, football fans who live in markets away from their favorite clubs have never been able to buy only their team's games via DirecTV for the past 27 years. Tech-savvy individuals who prefer staying at home on Sundays can, however, easily find hundreds (if not thousands) of illegal streams for games each week, so it would behoove both the NFL and the new "Sunday Ticket" rights holder to offer more options later this decade.