Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As cord-cutting becomes increasingly prevalent, live sports — one of the last bastions representing the age of cable TV — represent a major opportunity for streamers and tech giants to set themselves apart from the pack.

Driving the news: Apple has hired Amazon executive Jim DeLorenzo to head up sports for Apple TV, signaling its intent to lean more heavily into sports programming and potentially invest millions in live sports rights.

Big Tech:

  • Amazon: They hired DeLorenzo in March 2016, just before losing the NFL Thursday Night Football bidding war to Twitter. But they took back TNF in 2017, and just inked a massive, three-year deal that also includes exclusive rights to one Saturday NFL game each season.
  • Apple: Apple TV+ hasn't exactly made waves with its original programming, but they're far from giving up on that business, and the DeLorenzo hire suggests live sports could play a bigger role going forward.
  • Facebook: In 2017, Facebook struck a deal with MLB to stream one game each week. That was down to just six games last year, and the company has mostly removed itself from live sports bidding. Instead, Facebook is doubling down on its social media prowess with new products like Venue, a second-screen-focused app where fans can interact while watching live sports elsewhere.
  • Twitter: Following the loss of TNF rights, Twitter has focused more on deals that align with the platform's biggest strength: engagement. The NBA (iso-cam) and MLB (Twitter hitter) are all about fan interactivity, and various other media companies have similar deals to deliver short-form content. Twitter also signed a three-year deal with MLS in 2018 to stream at least 24 games per year, averaging over 600,000 viewers per game in 2019.

Go deeper: The sports streaming landscape, mapped

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Sep 9, 2020 - Sports

College football becomes a political proxy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College football has become a key political issue as the 2020 election approaches, and the impending NFL season will only ratchet up the intensity around empty stadiums and player protests.

Why it matters: Football is America's most popular sport. And considering 43 of the top 50 most-watched TV broadcasts last year were football games, it's arguably our most popular form of entertainment, period.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 8, 2020 - Technology

Apple sets Sept. 15 virtual event, but may not be for iPhone

Screenshot: Axios via Apple.com

Apple has made official a Sept. 15 press event, but this might not be the one where the company debuts its latest iPhones. The company has previously said this year's iPhones would ship a few weeks later than years' past.

Why it matters: Apple often has multiple fall product launches, though typically the iPhone release comes first.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 8, 2020 - Technology

Apple countersues Fortnite developer Epic

Apple on Tuesday filed its response to a lawsuit from Epic Games and made counterclaims of its own, arguing that the Fortnite developer breached its contract with Apple and is violating California laws against unfair competition.

Why it matters: It's a high-stakes battle for both companies, with Apple aiming to preserve the status quo and Epic arguing developers should have options beyond using Apple for in-app payments.