TechApple in Talks to Sponsor the Super Bowl Halftime...

Apple in Talks to Sponsor the Super Bowl Halftime Show

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Talks between the Nationwide Soccer League and Apple over a package deal of Sunday soccer video games have dragged because the league and the tech large have wrangled over pricing, however one other deal has been added to the combo: sponsorship of the Tremendous Bowl halftime present.

The N.F.L. has been looking for as a lot as $2.5 billion for rights to N.F.L. Sunday Ticket, about $1 billion greater than what it collects from its present supplier, DirecTV. As the perimeters squabble over a rights price that top, Apple has agreed to be the principle sponsor of the Tremendous Bowl halftime present, the league and the corporate stated late Thursday evening. They didn’t disclose phrases of the deal.

Apple Music will change Pepsi as sponsor in a deal that the N.F.L. has been procuring round for about $50 million, stated three individuals aware of the negotiations.

Turning into the first sponsor of the Tremendous Bowl halftime present is a departure for Apple. The corporate has prided itself on advertising and marketing its model otherwise than client items corporations equivalent to Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald’s, which have lengthy histories of sponsoring sports activities and cultural occasions.

Apple seldom sponsors occasions that it doesn’t management. It has not lent its model to a high-profile occasion since 2016, when it sponsored the Met Gala in a bid to extend acceptance of its Apple Watch inside the world of style.

The stalemate on the a lot bigger deal between Apple and the N.F.L. is hampering the league’s efforts to grow to be a pacesetter within the streaming of stay sports activities. With shoppers abandoning conventional tv packages, Roger Goodell, the N.F.L.’s commissioner, has put a precedence on increasing the league’s attain past conventional broadcasters to digital media equivalent to Netflix and HBO Max, the place youthful viewers are turning their consideration.

Final yr, the league minimize a string of conventional broadcast agreements with CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC for its highest-profile video games, however it reserved two packages for tech corporations that it thought of to be the sports activities programmers of tomorrow. It struck an 11-year, $13 billion take care of Amazon to stream Thursday evening video games, and it introduced that it will promote its Sunday Ticket to a streaming service.

Although the N.F.L. has mentioned Sunday Ticket with Google, Amazon and ESPN, its most in depth negotiations have been with Apple. Executives at each the league and the tech large have informed enterprise companions that they count on to get a deal achieved, in line with the individuals aware of the negotiations. However the talks have been sophisticated by the N.F.L.’s resolution to promote a number of property concurrently, together with Sunday Ticket, the halftime present and N.F.L. Media properties equivalent to N.F.L. Community and the RedZone channel.

One of many greatest issues has been the N.F.L.’s asking value of $2.5 billion. The $1 billion enhance from the present deal can be troublesome to win from a standard media firm however has been particularly powerful to seize from Apple, which has deep pockets and an curiosity in branching into sports activities but additionally an unyielding dedication to profitability that leads it to squeeze suppliers.

The N.F.L. has signaled its frustration with Apple by reaching out to representatives at different media corporations to encourage them to place ahead a bid, in line with two individuals aware of the outreach. However a few of these corporations have been cautious of turning into a software that the N.F.L. can use to induce a much bigger provide from Apple.

“Whereas the inspiration and cornerstones of the deal are in place, the satan is all the time within the particulars, notably in a deal that has advanced parts that reach past the historic Sunday Ticket rights,” stated William Mao, a media rights marketing consultant at Octagon, a sports activities and leisure company.

Apple has pursued Sunday Ticket as a part of a broader technique to extend subscriptions to its streaming service, Apple TV+, by tapping into the recognition of stay sports activities. Regardless of pouring billions of {dollars} a yr into critically acclaimed sequence equivalent to “The Morning Present” and “Ted Lasso,” Apple’s three-year-old service has solely about 16 million subscribers in the US, fewer than half the subscribers Disney+ has collected since launching across the identical time, in line with Antenna, a media analysis agency.

Leaders at Apple have informed Hollywood executives that buying Sunday Ticket would enhance viewership of its reveals. The N.F.L. stays certainly one of tv’s greatest attracts, with its video games accounting for three-quarters of the highest 100 most-watched applications final yr, in line with Sports activities Enterprise Journal.

In latest months, Tim Prepare dinner, Apple’s chief govt, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of companies, have met with the proprietor of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, and the proprietor of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, who’re main the league’s negotiations, the individuals aware of the negotiations stated.

The concept of Apple’s sponsoring the Tremendous Bowl halftime present bubbled up in the midst of the talks as a method to deepen the enterprise ties. The N.F.L. wanted a alternative for Pepsi and acknowledged that Apple had tapped its advertising and marketing price range to win rights to stay sports activities. The corporate provided Main League Baseball $55 million in rights charges for 2 weekly Friday baseball video games, and a further $30 million in promoting, in line with two individuals aware of the settlement. Forbes earlier reported the phrases of the deal.

The discussions between the N.F.L. and Apple over the Tremendous Bowl halftime threatened to delay the league’s launch of this season’s performers, a few of these individuals stated. The N.F.L. and Jay-Z’s leisure firm, Roc Nation, which produces the present, final yr introduced the artists in September, giving the league ample time to construct anticipation. Organizers are keen to construct on final yr’s occasion, the Tremendous Bowl’s first hip-hop efficiency, a celebration of rap that made historical past by profitable three Emmy Awards.

Jay-Z and Roc Nation are anticipated proceed to take the lead on deciding on artists and selecting performers for the occasion, however Apple will be capable to weigh in on the route of the present, in line with an individual aware of the deal

A spokeswoman for Roc Nation didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The tech firm and the hip-hop pioneer make for unusual bedfellows. In 2015, Jay-Z purchased a streaming-music service, Tidal, and made his music catalog unique to the service, depriving Apple Music of albums equivalent to “The Blueprint.” Two years later, he launched a lot of his catalog to Apple and ultimately exited the streaming-music enterprise, promoting Tidal to Sq. for practically $300 million in 2021.

Ken Belson and Kevin Draper contributed reporting.

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