UPDATE: The Guardian reported tonight, Jan. 4, that Apple is “believed to have ruled itself out of the running” for the rights to stream Premier League football content.
Despite much speculation from media outlets, such as The Daily Mail, it seems Apple has not even discussed the idea of bidding, and the company is unlikely to make an offer after the conclusion of this season.
Furthermore, The Guardian said Apple’s primary competitor in the streaming device market, Google, is “considered a more likely bidder.”
Reports surfaced late Jan. 3 claiming Apple wants to stream Premier League football content to its Apple TV service.
The Premier League will consider bids for next season after the rights to screen football games expires at the end of the 2011 to 2012 season.
The Daily Mail reported Jan. 3 that both Apple and Google are interested in purchasing rights to Premier League content for their respective Apple TV and Google TV services. Such streaming content is considered premium and could help solidify Apple TV in the United Kingdom while boosting iPad sales.
Apple’s U.K. iTunes subscription infrastructure is secure, but Apple TV is struggling due to a lack of streaming apps offered within the country. Apple TV in the U.K. presently offers a subscription package to Major League Baseball. Therefore, a Premier League app would compliment the available selection considerably.
The Mail did not quote sources but said the involvement of Apple and Google would “give the [Premier League] a hugely competitive market at a time when the price of other TV sports rights are in decline.”
ESPN and SkySports currently own the rights to show live games. ESPN is even allowed to show goals through the “ESPN goals” app, but the BBC only has permission to screen highlights on “Match of the Day” in the U.K.
The Mail also reported that Sky, ESPN and Al Jazeera are three bidders vying for broadcast rights at the moment. Sky paid £1.6 billion for its packages, and ESPN is apparently trying to purchase more content.
The Premier League has a massive global audience, so it seems natural that Apple would go after the rights, especially after recent reports indicated Apple’s rumored high-definition television is slated for a 2012 launch.