Apple considers bid for Premier League rights

Technology company Apple is considering a bid for English Premier League domestic rights and could face competition in the next tender from internet company Google, according to the Daily Mail.

The newspaper said that Apple believes Premier League content would help to establish the Apple TV digital media receiver in the UK and would boost sales of the iPad device. An adaptable Apple subscription model is already in place through the iTunes online market. The newspaper also said it expects internet company Google to consider bidding when the tender for the 2013-14 to 2015-16 seasons is launched before the end of this season.

Research company Bernstein said last month that it expected Apple to bid for Premier League rights along with pay-television broadcaster Al Jazeera. “As European regulators are turning increasingly hostile to exclusive contracts, it may prove impossible for pay-television companies to keep key premium content away from Apple,” Bernstein said, according to the PaidContent media news website.

Bernstein said the presence of Al Jazeera alone could force incumbent rights-holder BSkyB, the pay-television operator, to spend up to 25 per cent more to retain its rights. Al Jazeera entered the French market last year by buying domestic football league rights and out-bidding rival pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus for rights for Uefa Champions League football. The company has so far refused to comment on reports it could attempt a move into the UK.

Meanwhile, BSkyB is reported to have written to UK pub licensees to warn them that broadcasting Premier League matches without having an authorised Sky subscription would represent a breach of copyright in the wake of the European Court of Justice ruling last October in the case between the Premier League and UK publican Karen Murphy.