If Apple Inc. gets its way, you might never miss a sports highlight again.
According to a report published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated, the tech giant has a team of a dozen workers constantly watching a variety of sports — in what they geekily call “The Sports Ball Room” — and potentially laying the groundwork for a curated service that may someday let users tune into highlights as they’re happening.
is expected to unveil its highly anticipated streaming-video service next week. But while streaming rivals such as Amazon.com Inc.
and Facebook Inc.
have started offering live sports, that doesn’t seem to be the direction Apple is headed.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for software and services — which is an increasingly important part of Apple’s revenue stream — told SI that the company has no current plans to enter the live-sports programming arena. “That’s not to say we would never do sports, because who the heck knows,” he said. “Never is a long time, but I don’t think that’s a problem right now.”
As Cue described to SI, what he envisions is more along the lines of a Google Alert for live sports highlights, letting fans know what to watch, right now. An every-sport version of the NFL Network’s Red Zone, if you will.
As an example, Cue mentioned Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance in a random, middle-of-the-season NBA matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors in 2006, which happened to be played on a Sunday night. “It was amazing to watch, but the vast majority even of Lakers fans didn’t see it,” he told SI. “As a fan, I’ve always looked at it as an opportunity.”
In Cue’s dream scenario, Apple would serve as a middleman, giving users one-click access to the games everyone will be talking about tomorrow, perhaps linking to video streams from subscription networks that are available through Apple’s app store. The NCAA Tournament would be ripe for such viewing, with users conceivably being led from one nail-biter of an ending to another, while being able to skip the boring games. Users could also be alerted to tune in when their favorite players, or fantasy-league players, are having a big game, or when their favorite team is making a comeback.
How exactly would it work, and how would Apple make money off it? That’s what Cue and his team are trying to figure out.
But that’s not to say it won’t be a big thing one day. As SI notes in the article, “Apple rarely does tiny.”