updated 02:05 am EST, Wed January 4, 2012
May be content for Euro version of set-top boxes
Apple is said to be interested in joining the bidding for TV rights for the next set of Premier League UK football games, reports the British newspaper The Daily Mail. The company may be looking for exclusive content to add as an enticement to its Apple TV set-top box, similar to the way the company now offers free Wall Street Journal video to the US and Canadian versions.
Should Apple actually enter a bid, Google is seen as likely to also enter the battle for rights, as it could also license the content for its own, less-successful Google TV product. Winning rights to offer UK football matches -- either for free or through a subscription -- would be a huge coup for either company, but the cost would be quite high and would find the technology giants pitted against both current rights holder Sky TV (owned by Rupert Murdoch), ESPN, and even Middle Eastern network Al Jezeera, which has a strong presence in Europe and serves an audience of countries that are very enthusiastic about world-class soccer. Sky paid over 1.6 billion pounds (about 2.5 billion dollars) for its current rights package.
The story may be very speculative in nature, as no sources for the report (even unnamed) are cited, and Apple has not had a history of actually buying rights to content (though it does offer a portal for subscription games and sports statistics on Apple TV). The Daily Mail is considered a "Conservative" newspaper in Britain's political spectrum, and sports the second-highest circulation in the country, with an above average female readership. Like many other mid-level and tabloid UK newspapers, however, it has been accused and occasionally sued for making up stories.