Apple Is Reportedly Betting Big On Sports Streaming

Apple Is Reportedly Betting Big On Sports Streaming
Photo: Apple

Apparently seeking to bring users more access to the wonderful world of sports, Apple is reportedly hard at work on a new framework that would potentially improve streaming coverage within its iOS and Apple TV apps.

Following the first beta release of iOS version 15.2 in October, 9to5Mac combed through the internal system files and found references to something called “SportsKit.” Mysterious! Nobody knows exactly what that framework might entail yet, but it does appear to be integrated with the Apple TV app, Siri, and Home screen widgets.

Notably, those Home screen widgets seem to be capable of receiving live updates and data changes — something that the current widgets can’t do, and something that would integral if you wanted to, say, broadcast real-time scoring updates (as 9to5Mac mentions, Siri is already capable of showing up-to-date sports scores, a function that Apple is probably eager to expand to other parts of iOS and tvOS).

As 9to5Mac notes, the SportsKit framework is a private API, meaning that it won’t be available to third-party developers, at least to start. It’s also in beta, which means there’s a solid chance it won’t ever see the light of day.

But the evidence is mounting that Apple is interested in beefing up its sports offerings. The company has reportedly been in deep talks with the NFL recently on converting its Sunday Ticket package into an all-digital offering after the league’s current contract with DirecTV expires in 2023, and key hires — including the appointment of the former head of Amazon Prime Video’s sports division to the Apple TV team — have only fuelled speculation.

Ad-supported streamers are increasingly betting big on sports programming, which is a cash cow in that it’s inherently designed to support more built-in ad breaks than traditional entertainment options. But even for an ad-free streaming service like Apple TV+, sports programming still represents a coveted foothold for a platform that’s increasingly seeking to woo cord-cutters, many of whom feel like sports are one of the last good things about watching live TV.