Will Apple (Finally) Bring The Beautiful Game To Fans?

I read this post, Apple Interested In Bidding For Premier League UK TV Rights, Says Report, with great giddiness. Think about that for a minute.

The Premier League in the palm of your hands. Watching your team wherever / whenever. In high-definition quality.

It seems this would create far more winners than losers, although I imagine the short-term loss of revenue might make the potential losers pitch a fit.

If this idea were to go through, here is who I see as the winners and losers...

Losers

Cable Screw 'em. Or, as Fred Wilson says, #screwcable. At least in the short-term, the cable industry and their related channels would feel the biggest sting. ESPN, FOX, etc. seem to be trying but they don't quite get it.

But it doesn't need to be mutually exclusive. Why not team up with Apple for a nice and healthy bid? Then, the Premier League can be shown through cable networks as well as through iTunes / the Apple network.

I think this is something Fox should do. They've been the most creative when it comes to bringing the Premier League to the US. Even though it was delayed, the match shown earlier this year on Fox (not cable) was great and seemed to get a lot of positive press.

A Fox + Apple bid? That could work. Still, I think the cable industry would pitch a fit.

By the way, we cut out the cable guy a few years ago, deciding we were paying way too much for content we were never going to watch. The summer months were the worst. (You're charging me the same amount for re-runs?) We went the Apple TV / iTunes + Netflix + OTA route and have been really happy.

The most difficult part has been the sports side - getting real-time sports has been tough.

I've tried the ESPN app for the iPad - I don't have cable so I, um, can't watch it on my iPad (huh?) - and the Fox Soccer app for the iPad / iPhone. The Fox Soccer app seemed to have some promise, but didn't really cut it (especially at that monthly rate). I recently checked out the app to see if it's developed into something a bit better.

Nope.

I think a little competition would be a good thing here.

 

Winners

Apple

  • They'll sell more iStuff, bringing yet another reason to pick up an iPhone / iPod / iPad.
  • What better way to promote the (likely) coming Apple TV product than with a sports package including the NBA, NHL, MLB, and now the Premier League. If they add the NFL, what's the reason for subscribing to cable?
  • Yes, Apple fans are passionate, but have you been to a 7:30am (ET) kickoff between Arsenal and Manchester United? Good golly - It's like people waiting in line for the iPhone 4, except they are all wearing the same gear and a much more intense glare. Now, merge these two groups. Holy moly.
  • Picking up the Premier League would help their iAds initiative reach a global audience, immediately, and would likely offset a portion of the cost of their bid.

Fans

  • Right now, in the States, we can pick up ESPN and Fox through a cable package or Sky, BBC through satellite packages, or we can go to a bar and watch the games. Internet feeds are available but there hasn't been a successful channel where we can watch cames in high-quality. From any device. From anywhere. It's 2012, right?
  • Fans can connect with their teams through league/tournament/team-specific apps or sites. Yes, we can do this already, but it would be a richer experience if we could connect with our fellow fans around the world while watching a game.
  • I can watch Liverpool no matter where I'm at. I CAN WATCH LIVERPOOL NO MATTER WHERE I'M AT!

Teams

  • Easily sell more team-specific items by connecting your team's store. Game-winning goal scored by Torres? Pick up his jersey with a single click.
  • Easily reach out to the team's community through a fan registration page. Another option to help fans connect with the team.
  • People standing in line / sitting on a train watching your team? That's a conversation-starter, and one that will increase the visibility of the team. Nice.

Advertisers This one seems a bit obvious. You'd have direct, geographically-specific, access to an audience willing to spend money (Apple owners + soccer fans). Oh, the team's sponsor? That gets a lot more visibility, too.

Premier League I don't know the politics around the Premier League, but they seem a hungry bunch when it comes to television and advertising rights (ie, $ / € / £). While the initial payout won't be as large, it sure seems it will grow over time with many different cross-/up-sell opportunities (directly to fans and through other partners).

Soccer We're a country and globe on the go. Why not put any Premier League game in the hands of any fan? And if this is successful, which other leagues would want to join in? (I bet lots.) And why not pursue some of the global tournaments, as well? (CONCACAF, EURO Championships, World Cup, etc.)

I'm thinking of the United States as a market here, but this model could easily extend more broadly once proven successful.

Please?