Apple signals interest in sports with Amazon exec hire

Apple has signaled a potential interest in sports for its Apple TV+ service through its reported hire of an Amazon exec who led similar initiatives for the e-commerce giant.

Recode Media’s Peter Kafka said that Amazon executive Jim DeLorenzo is going to Apple to run sports for the company’s TV business.

DeLorenzo has been head of sports for Amazon Video since 2016. Since that time, Amazon has made some headway into sports licensing, most notably with a streaming deal for NFL Thursday Night Football that was just renewed with another multiyear agreement. Amazon has also reached deals to stream Premier League soccer matches in the U.K. The company last year took a partial ownership stake in YES Network and was set to stream some New York Yankees games before the MLB season was sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic.

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It’s unclear if the hiring means Apple will go after live sports rights or licensing of sports-related content but it could mean the company is further willing to expand on its original Apple TV+ plans.

Apple TV+ launched on November 1 last year with a relatively small lineup of originals and no deep library of older content for subscribers to fall back on like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. However, recent reports suggest that Apple has changed its approach and gone after licensed titles.

According to Bloomberg, the company is accepting pitches from studios about licensing content and has already bought some older shows and movies for its service. Still, Apple TV+ will remain focused on its original content and the executives in charge of the service aren’t going after any big franchises.

If Apple does decide to jump into negotiations for live sports rights, it certainly has the funds for that type of acquisition. The company ended its most recent quarter with $192.8 billion on hand.