Apple among possible partners for streaming Thursday NFL games

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The National Football League is considering Apple among several potential partners for streaming Thursday matches, a report said on Wednesday.

The league has reached out not just to Apple but to Amazon, Google, and Yahoo, according to SportsBusiness Daily. Companies agreeing to the idea would be streaming on a non-exclusive basis, and the NFL's tentative plans are said to call for a simulcast of TV productions, including identical advertising.

It's not clear what form an Apple deal would take, particularly since the company's plans for an over-the-top TV service have been put on hold. While Apple could conceivably build a specific streaming option into iTunes or an iOS or Apple TV update, the NFL will presumably want to direct traffic to apps of its own wherever possible.

The NFL has been gradually adopting a more digital-friendly strategy. Next year's Super Bowl, for instance, will be viewable for free online.

Sports are often thought to be one of the few things keeping people tethered to traditional cable and satellite packages, which can often cost $100 per month or more. Another issue though is bandwidth, since many American homes are either speed-limited or hampered by data caps from Internet providers like Comcast.