BBC’s Lineker foul gives Apple and BT Sport a penalty chance

I hope Apple heeds the palpable anger emanating from the BBC’s sports commentators at the channel’s contradictory policies when it comes to Gary Lineker’s perfectly reasonable assessment of a government bent on violating human rights.

He wrote: “This is just immeasurably cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable, in language not unlike that of Germany in the ’30s, and I’m out of order?”

The BBC then threw him off his show and his peers across the industry showed their support.

I think this is Apple’s chance to take over football broadcasting – unless someone else takes control first.

Apple has a drive for the beautiful game

I’m pretty sure that’s what it wants. Assuming that without fire there is no smoke, we’ve heard a lot of gossip about the company quietly trying to build a bridge into Britain’s ‘beautiful game’.

In recent months we’ve heard speculation that Manchester United is about to be bought and the company has already acquired MLS streaming rights. It is also believed to be interested in acquiring rights to the British Premier League.

This interest in bringing British football to TV+ makes sense for many reasons.

It would give Apple and its TV+ channel an instant audience, bringing the service to every football-loving nation and making a subscription to its channels essential wherever football programming is currently shared.

In terms of future network developments (especially around satellite and 6G), it gives the global company a global stance and another global product, and you just know it will help the company grow a lot of augmented reality glasses and iPhones sell.

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That’s worth a lot of money.

Infuriating an industry with a self-inflicted own goal

What has changed is that by upsetting their football talent, the BBC has given that talent a reason to think about where to go next.

The challenge could be that UK broadcasting laws require football events to be broadcast live and free-to-air on terrestrial television, ie BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

But that protection doesn’t mean much if teams, pundits, commentators, and broadcast engineers don’t want to work with the channel. You want to work with people who are doing the right thing.

When it comes to football talent, we can see the BBC pissed them off.

That said, it’s reasonable to think it’s upset people across the football industry.

Not only has this industry spent years – years – fighting racism on the terraces; but most sane people agree that they stand up for human rights Winston Churchill pledged his support to the nation 70 years ago only supports what we have already agreed and does not engage in a political debate.

playing a bad game

The BBC doesn’t seem to agree, but their approach appears to be contradictory, as noted by Sky.

These inconsistencies are important and will be noticed.

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The end game is that the broadcaster has done enormous damage to the loyalty it once enjoyed throughout the football (perhaps the entire sport) ecosystem. This anger has reached players, technicians, fans and staff. It will inevitably reach other sports and sports fans.

This is Apple’s chance to take the penalty

Many of these people will be much more interested in finding alternatives now than they were this time last week. It’s a perfect storm, with an entire industry striving for change in its wake.

It is therefore important that Premier League TV’s current three-year contract ends in 2025 and that negotiations for broadcasting rights begin later this year.

The cost will be high, but what has changed is that as of today, anyone bidding for those rights will have an instant stable of respected supporting talent looking for a better deal; teams angry enough to turn their backs on the BBC; and fans who are willing to pay for quality sports programming from a broadcaster they trust.

It’s perfectly reasonable to think that Apple – and everyone else currently bidding for football broadcasting rights in the UK and beyond – will see this for what it is; An opportunity to make a deal.

(And let’s be honest, it looks like BT Sports are taking full advantage of this open goal).

But future rights are up for grabs. Perhaps Apple (or BT Sports) can partner with a terrestrial broadcaster like Channel 4 to broadcast its premium football TV shows in the UK for free over terrestrial TV, with the football experts we already love and these shows at the same time against one Fee to stream worldwide.

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As well as a terrestrial broadcaster, shows would be available on any Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Reality headset and any other device that supports the Apple TV app, which most of them currently are. If you have a modern Smart TV, you can already watch Apple’s streaming shows. Including Ted Lasso.


Ted Lasso hits

That’s a global reach and I can imagine the UK (and international) football industry has never been more ready to embrace an offer like this than it is today. For the BBC, it was a string of seemingly pointless own goals. And as a lineker he once said himself“When the mindless few defeat the thoughtful majority, we are all doomed.”

It’s time the majority made more noise. The BBC didn’t deserve to win this game. #I’m withGary.

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