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Apple again rumored to bid on NFL streaming partnership

Apple, Google, Amazon and Verizon might soon be locked in a bidding war for rights to stream NFL's "Thursday Night Football," as a report on Thursday says each company is seeking favor as the league's Internet content partner.

When the NFL announced two-year TV broadcast deals with CBS and NBC for the Thursday night games, it also revealed "active discussions with prospective digital partners" for those same matches. According to sources familiar with the matter, Apple is one of the companies looking to bring NFL games to its streaming service, Variety reports.

Details of the potential deal are unknown, though Apple, Google, Amazon and Verizon's Go90 service are expected to put in bids. Pricing is likewise a mystery, though broadcasters pay hefty sums to air spotlight NFL matchups like "Monday Night Football" and weekend contests. There is a possibility that digital rights will be sold to multiple providers in an arrangement similar to the CBS and NBC deal.

At this point it seems like the NFL's initiative is in its early stages. The report notes the league is investigating a number of different distribution models, including rights to games played internationally, a feature slowly gaining in popularity.

Today's report is not the first to connect Apple to a "Thursday Night Football" partnership. Rumors in December claimed the company was in the running for a non-exclusive deal alongside Google and Yahoo.

More recently, Apple and Google were said to be in talks to buy streaming rights to three NFL matchups set to take place in London next season. It is not clear if those talks are connected to a "Thursday Night Football" bid.