Apple & NHL In Talks To Bring iPads In Team Benches And Arenas

By Faye F. , Updated Dec 08, 2016 10:52 AM EST

The National Hockey League (NHL) has informed teams that it is in late-stage discussions with Apple regarding a major partnership that could bring iPads and other supporting technology in the benches and other areas of the arena.  

The NHL has been in discussions with Apple and its rival company, Microsoft, for several years now, but talks with Apple accelerated after similar negotiations between the National Basketball Association and Apple failed to come into an agreement. The sources claim that a deal between NHL and Apple is likely to materialize in the near future, and adds that while it's possible it could still collapse, the discussions have come down far the path for that to happen.  

Major League Baseball's BAMTech, a digital media company involved in online streaming operations, is part of the discussions between Apple and NHL. BAMTech has a six-year deal with NHL to distribute live out-of-market games. Its parent division MLB Advanced Media also owns rights to NHL's website, operations, mobile apps and distribution of NHL GameCenter Live, which is available on iPad and other devices from Apple. As part of the agreement, BAMTech will also develop a platform for player and puck tracking which is why they are also involved in the NHL and Apple negotiations.   

What might possibly hinder the deal is NHL's aspiration to strike a model that's closer to the one used by the National Football League, which allows companies like Bose and Motorola to pay them millions of dollars so their products can be worn by staff and team coaches on the sidelines during the games. NHL is reportedly asking for $5M per year in a major sponsorship revenue contract. However, Apple is known for their resistance in paying for sponsorships.  

But according to the sources, the discussions between the two parties are more about partnerships. "The NHL Apple deal is more a major partnership than a sponsorship. Right now, some teams have iPads or other tablets and some don't. Some have good Internet connections, some don't. This deal is about having a consistent platform that every team can use in every rink," explained the source.  

Representatives of NHL and Apple have declined to comment on the matter so far. 

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