While Apple continues to focus its eye on how to step up its game in the area of original content, it’s also striking partnerships that could help its offensive line in one specific category: sports. The company is debuting a new section in Apple News that will be dedicated to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The Olympics section will appear in the “For You” section, the part of Apple News where the platform delivers a more personalised set of stories based on publications and channels that you look at regularly.
The company will be partnering with NBC Olympics for the service, which will feature videos, articles and infographics also from a selection of sources. The portal will work outside of the US — everywhere that Apple News is live — but since NBC only holds the rights to coverage in the U.S. the video links will only appear and work there. The other partners involved are essentially Apple’s other news partners.
While this Winter Olympics section will be appearing in News, the portal will be doing more than just reporting what has happened in the latest events. It will also include a planner for people to figure out what is showing when, and let you add events you want to watch to your calendar.
It will also link to live streams, although these and full replays of specific events will link outside to the NBC Sports app, Apple says. Clips from events can be watched directly within the Apple News app. There will also be a medal tracker and morning roundups for those in timezones that are far from where the games are taking place.
Apple itself has been making several moves to beef up its own content plays. The thinking is that having more exclusivity and ownership of what is provided on its own video and music services could be a way of differentiating them from the rest of the digital media pack, and potentially making them more attractive for consumers to pay to use.
Sports has not really been a huge focus in that context up to now — a deal with Spielberg and family-friendly comedies and dramas with broad appeal seem to be the order of the day. However, Apple did add a dedicated Sports tab to Apple TV in September, perhaps laying the groundwork for this and many more activities down the line.
We’re in a mini-spate of tech and media companies getting their ducks in line for the big event.
The news comes a day after Google launched its own series of Olympics coverage and features. Both Google’s and Apple’s news hits speak to how those in the business of tech but outside the traditional business of media are looking to get their own share of audience around the Olympics, which is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world.
One thing that is not clear to me is why Apple has chosen to put its Olympics coverage in “For You”.
I have two guesses. On the one hand, it will give a little more attention to the section: Apple has never detailed how much “For You” is used compared to the rest of Apple News, but I’m guessing what’s at the top of the app is used the most when you first open it. On the other hand, the Olympics has mainstream interest and so putting Winter Olympics into the sports section might have meant that a wider range of users may never see it.
Updated with more information about how the app will work.