A new Sports Illustrated article offers a look inside Apple's so-called sports surveillance room at its Results Way office complex in Cupertino, California, where a team of Apple employees have been monitoring sports events for newsworthy and unpredictable moments for almost a year now.
The report says the team manages the sports subsection in Apple's TV app and its Apple TV interface, highlighting what's available around the clock and sending notifications about exciting moments like a playoff game reaching triple overtime.
Apple's services chief Eddy Cue reflected on the company's broader goal of curating sports, using retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant's 81-point performance in an otherwise unremarkable Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors game in the 2006 NBA playoffs as an example of a sports moment worth highlighting.
"It was amazing to watch, but the vast majority even of Lakers fans didn't see it," said Cue. "As a fan, I've always looked at it as an opportunity."
For now, though, Apple doesn't appear to have any larger ambitions with sports. Asked how much he thinks about competing against Facebook and Amazon, both of which have experimented with airing live sports games on their platforms with exclusive rights, Cue responded "not a lot, honestly."
From the report:
"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." Sports rights are deeply fragmented, with different owners split by platform and region. "You really can't own all the rights, so therefore at some point you need to solve some other problems," Cue said. "You can't design for owning the rights because if that's the only thing you're doing you're always going to be tiny."
In other words, don't expect Apple to have its own sports broadcasts in its widely expected streaming video service, although it could provide sports content from partnered networks.