The television consumption landscape continues to change in response not only to changes in technology and consumer behavior, but also to new entrants with treasures of money to spend on programming. I can’t believe how much Amazon spent for a few seasons each of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Wheel of Time” – before either of them even aired – but it is the new standard.
The world of sport is not immune to these kinds of titanic changes. For example, recent word that Sinclair / Bally was on the verge of a deal to secure direct-to-consumer streaming rights for NBA games on their regional sports networks, a huge boon for their attempt to create a live sports streaming app (no cable subscription required). Right now, they only have the rights to four MLB teams, and MLB wants to create their own trouble-free streaming platform in the market. (While rights holders in a larger market like the Cubs / Marquee may eventually try to move forward with their own stand-alone services.)
It has the potential to be transformative in a way that few other developments do. But a whole new bidder is coming to the MLB streaming rights market? Like Amazon with its huge project purchases? Yes, it would also be quite transformative:
NEWS: Apple is in serious talks to broadcast Major League Baseball games, The Post has learned. https://t.co/AIhEayYR11
– Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) January 10, 2022
The article is limited on specifics at this time, except to say that it would likely involve the weekday games that ESPN recently gave up, and not be a billion dollar deal. (I guess the deal would just be part of the Apple TV + streaming app, rather than tie directly to Apple devices, but I guess I wouldn’t rule out some sort of connection altogether.)
But the mere fact that Apple could enter that market would be huge news for baseball and sports in general. It is a liquidity-laden entity that is desperate to continue developing its options to strengthen its streamer. Live sports will always be (a) king, even in a world where the way we receive these live sports continues to change.
(Also: I keep in mind that this news was leaked during the lockdown. A reminder that there is still a lot of money in the future for sport? I remember when the massive Turner deal came out in 2020 during pandemic negotiations, which was used as public leverage by gamers to make this point..)