The biggest technology company in the world may soon be teaming up with the most popular sport in the world.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) plans to bid for the television rights to English Premier League soccer, Yahoo! Sports reported today. The English Premier League, or EPL, is one of the most profitable club soccer leagues in the world. News of the deal has the tech stock giant trading near its all-time high, at $423.24 a share.
The move would be Apple’s first dalliance into live programming – a heretofore unexplored avenue that could give the fast-expanding company even more potential for growth. Apple already sells a product called an Apple TV, which allows viewers to stream Internet content directly to their television screens. But the company has been threatening to introduce a new “iTV” product, which could presumably be the home for EPL games should rumors of this deal prove true.
English Premier League games currently air on networks such as ESPN and the U.K.’s Sky Sports channel. But according to Yahoo!, Apple is interested in acquiring exclusive rights to air EPL games beginning in 2013. The move would significantly expand Apple’s presence in the British market, and perhaps set the stage for a push into an area the company largely ignores at the moment: sports.
Apple’s stock is off to a strong start in 2012, up more than 4% over the first six trading days of 2012.The company generated $110 billion in revenue and $33 billion in free cash flow in 2011. Its iPhone 4S, introduced in early October, is producing record sales, and the company’s new iPad 3 is set to debut next month.
So even if Apple isn’t able to pull off a deal to buy the English Premier League rights, there is still plenty of room to grow for a company that is already the second-largest in the U.S. by market cap.