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Apple TV and the NFL: The 50-Yard Scamper for Cash

Stocks in this article: AAPL GOOG DTV

DirecTV certainly won't go down without a fight in this battle, given it spent $4 billion on the deal just four years ago. It's also a question of whether the NFL would even sell the rights to a technology company, potentially upsetting the last bastion cable companies have over viewers. Live sports have always been the one reason most consumers cite as a reason not to cut the cord, and the NFL is the most popular domestic sport.

As part of the Madden 2014 Anniversary Edition, DirecTV is allowing buyers to watch any game on their smartphone or tablet with an access code. The relationship between the NFL and DirecTV is certainly a strong one, and perhaps not one the NFL is likely to just throw away.

Bringing Sunday Ticket to Silicon Valley will allow Apple (or any other technology company) to enhance the viewing experience in a way that these companies know best.

Apple has been working on building up its software and services drastically over the past year or so, and has made Apple TV a prime part of that. It recently added HBO GO and WatchESPN to its lineup. Getting a deal with the NFL would not only make Apple's TV plans that much better than anyone else in the industry, it would firmly supplant itself as having the innovation needed to compete in the television space, one where CEO Tim Cook has said is "an area of intense interest" for Apple.

Not only would Apple get the perception it's willing to do what it takes to win in services, it likely would significantly boost software and services revenue, as well as hardware revenue. Last quarter, Apple generated $3.99 billion in software revenue, up 25% year over year. Apple does not break down revenue for Apple TV, but it's listed under the iPod section on Apple's Web site.

Watching the Sunday Ticket deal play out in public is going to be incredibly interesting. For fans, like myself and millions of others, this drama will undoubtedly change the way we watch the NFL and perhaps consumer live sports for years to come.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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