September 25, 2022

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Apple sponsors the Super Bowl in the first half

Apple sponsors the Super Bowl in the first half

Talks between the National Football League and Apple about a batch of Sunday football games were delayed as the league and the tech giant squabbled over pricing, but another deal was added to the mix: sponsorship of the Super Bowl halftime show.

The NFL was seeking up to $2.5 billion for the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, about $1 billion more than it raises from its current provider, DirecTV. The league and the company said late Thursday, as the two sides battle a rights fee this high, Apple has agreed to be the main sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show. They did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Three people familiar with the negotiations said Apple Music would replace Pepsi as sponsor of a deal the NFL was shopping around for about $50 million.

Becoming the main sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show is a departure for Apple. The company prides itself on marketing its brand differently from consumer goods companies such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald’s, which have a long history of sponsoring sporting and cultural events.

Apple rarely sponsors events that it doesn’t control. She hasn’t shown her brand to a high-profile event since 2016, when she sponsored the Met Gala in an effort to increase the Apple Watch’s acceptance in the fashion world.

The stalemate in the much larger deal between Apple and the NFL is hampering the league’s efforts to become a leader in broadcasting live sports. With consumers abandoning traditional TV packages, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has prioritized expanding the league’s reach beyond traditional broadcasters to digital media like Netflix and HBO Max, where younger viewers are turning their attention.

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Last year, the league Cut a string of traditional broadcast agreements with CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBC For her most notable games, but she reserved two packages for tech companies that she considered future sports programmers. It struck an 11-year, $13 billion deal with Amazon to stream Thursday night games, and announced it would sell the Sunday Ticket to the streaming service.

Although the NFL has discussed the Sunday Ticket with Google, Amazon and ESPN, its most extensive negotiations have been with Apple. Executives at both the league and the tech giant’s business partners have said they expect to seal a deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations. But the talks have been complicated by the NFL’s decision to simultaneously sell several assets, including the Sunday Ticket, the halftime show, and NFL Media properties such as the NFL Network and RedZone Channel.

One of the biggest problems was the NFL’s $2.5 billion asking price. It would be hard to get a $1 billion raise from the existing deal from a traditional media company, but it was especially hard to get from Apple, which has deep pockets and an interest in branching out into the sport but also an unwavering commitment to profitability driving it to squeeze suppliers.

The NFL has signaled its frustration with Apple by reaching out to representatives at other media companies to encourage them to make a show, according to two people familiar with the outreach. But some of these companies have been wary of becoming a tool that the NFL can use to spur a bigger bid from Apple.

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“While the basis and cornerstones of the deal are in place, the devil is always in the details, particularly in a deal that contains complex elements beyond the historic Sunday Ticket rights,” said William Maw, a senior media rights executive at Octagon. Sports and Entertainment Agency.

The Apple Sunday Ticket has pursued as part of a broader strategy to increase subscriptions to its streaming service, Apple TV+, by capitalizing on the popularity of live sports. Despite pouring billions of dollars a year into critically acclaimed series like “The Morning Show” and “Ted Lasso,” the three-year-old Apple service only has about 16 million subscribers in the US, less than half of Disney’s. + You’ve accumulated them since their launch around the same time, according to Antenna, a media research firm.

Leaders at Apple have told Hollywood executives that getting a Sunday Ticket will increase viewership of its shows. The NFL continues to be one of television’s biggest draws, with its games accounting for three-quarters of the top 100 watchers last year, According to Sports Business Journal.

In recent months, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple services chief Eddie Keogh have met New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who lead the league. said people familiar with the negotiations.

The idea of ​​Apple sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show emerged in the context of conversations as a way to deepen business ties. The NFL needed a replacement for Pepsi and realized that Apple had used its marketing budget to win the rights to live sports. The company offered Major League Baseball $55 million in rights fees for two baseball games weekly on Friday, and an additional $30 million in advertising, according to two people familiar with the agreement. Forbes reported earlier Terms of the deal.

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Some of those people said discussions between the NFL and Apple about the Super Bowl halftime end threatened to delay the league’s release of performers this season. NFL entertainment company Roc Nation and Jay-Z, which produces the show, last year Artists announced in September, giving the league plenty of time to build anticipation. Organizers are eager to build on last year’s event, the Super Bowl’s The first hip-hop showthe rap music celebration that made history by winning three Emmy Awards.

Jay-Z and Roc Nation are expected to continue to take the lead in selecting artists and selecting performers for the event, but Apple will be able to consider the direction of the show, according to a person familiar with the deal.

A spokeswoman for Roc Nation did not respond to requests for comment.

The tech company and hip-hop pioneer make two strange companions. In 2015, Jay-Z bought music streaming service Tidal and made his song catalog exclusive to the service, depriving Apple Music of albums like “The Blueprint.” Two years later, he released a lot of his catalog to Apple and eventually got out of the streaming music business and selling From Tides to Square for nearly $300 million in 2021.

Ken Bilson And the Kevin Draper Contribute to the preparation of reports.