FIFA Club World Cup
Credit: Sonia Arcos, Shutterstock

Apple has made significant progress in talks with FIFA over a potential streaming deal for the Club World Cup, according to a report by The New York Times.

The outlet has cited ‘three people familiar with the matter’, although FIFA itself has not commented and informed NYT that it ‘does not confirm or deny commercial discussions’ as a general policy.

Should NYT’s reports be accurate, this would mark a significant expansion of Apple’s sports streaming rights, with the tech giant increasingly looking to get in on the action over recent years.

Apple TV’s biggest streaming property is Major League Soccer (MLS), which it will hold for most of the next decade. This apparent focus on US football/soccer would be further enhanced by the addition of the Club World Cup due to the 2025 edition scheduled to be held in the US.

However, NYT has reported that the agreement will be wider in scope than just the US, being a global contract. This has the potential to completely close off the tournament to any free-to-air rights bids, with Apple TV being a subscription service.

Securing a proven football streaming partner is also of use to FIFA ahead of the Club World Cup, which the global authority is hoping to revamp and revitalise under a new format.

Next year’s US edition of the tournament will be the first under a 32-team format. This marks a major change in the competitions history, having been organised as a seven-team competition involving the winners of each continental football association’s main club tournament, e.g. the UEFA Champions League, since inception in 2000.

Clubs can only be eligible if they have won a continental club competition – such as the Champions League or Europa League – between 2021 and 2024. This has made 12 European teams available, such as Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea, whilst six South American clubs will compete.

Additionally, the reported talks show the increasingly prominent role streaming companies are taking on in sports. Aside from MLS, Apple TV is not a particularly big player in this space yet.

Amazon Prime – which also leads Apple TV in terms of subscribers in general – has secured a strong start in this race, inking deals with the likes of the Premier League, LaLiga, ICC cricket and rugby union autumn internationals, among other tournaments.

In the US, perhaps the biggest name is NBC’s Peacock platform. The platform has become a streaming partner of the NFL, MLB and PGA Tour during its four year existence, and will be the sole broadcaster of the NFL’s newly announced Brazil fixture.

Finally, Netflix, already a global giant in film and television streaming, is also looking to build up its sports streaming credential as partner of WWE and broadcaster of the upcoming boxing bout between Jake Paul and Mike Tyson.

Amidst this increasingly competitive landscape, Apple TV may be hoping to build up its competitive edge by clinching FIFA Club World Cup rights.

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