Apple is “aggressively” seeking at least a slice of the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract, according to a New York Post report, citing anonymous sources.

DIRECTV currently carries the NFL Sunday Ticket package as an exclusive, but that deal expires after the 2022 season. The league has been discussing the next agreement with several companies including ESPN, Amazon, Apple, DIRECTV and perhaps others, according to various news reports over the last year.

The New York Post article, penned by the newspaper’s senior sports media reporter, Andrew Marchand, says Apple is also engaging in discussions for other sports TV rights, including MLB and MLS games. The company may have concluded that live sports is needed to boost its Apple TV+ streaming service which has lagged behind rivals such as Netflix, HBO Max and Amazon Prime, among others.

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However, it’s unclear from the article whether Apple has a serious chance of landing the Ticket either as an exclusive or as part of a multi-company deal that could permit DIRECTV to continue offering it to the satellite audience and bars and restaurants. Marchand writes that DIRECTV’s satellite version of the Ticket “is likely to continue.”

The media writer adds that ESPN and Amazon are also likely strong contenders for the Ticket and that the pending Warner Media/Discovery merger is a “wild card.” He added that it would “not be shocking if ESPN tried to partner with another platform/network to get the Sunday Ticket package.”

What’s also unclear from the New York Post article, and others citing anonymous sources saying certain companies are interested, is when the league will award the next Sunday Ticket agreement. Super Bowl week, which is next week, is always an interesting time to issue a major league announcement. There is no indication that the NFL is ready to pick a winner in the Ticket sweepstakes, but DIRECTV is certainly keeping its name prominent in league circles by sponsoring next week’s Super Bowl ‘Chairman’s Party’ in Los Angeles which will be headlined by Usher.

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It would seem unlikely that DIRECTV would take such a major role in a 2022 Super Bowl party if it was ready to give up the Ticket after the 2022 season.

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— Phillip Swann