Apple Close to Striking ‘Major Partnership’ with NHL to Bring iPads to Team Benches

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According to a report from TSN, Apple is close to striking a major partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) to bring iPads to team benches.

The deal would provide Apple with the opportunity to support backend infrastructure, similar to the company’s deal with the MLB (Major League Baseball) earlier this year.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the ongoing discussion, TSN reports the NHL has discussed a technological partnership with both Apple and Microsoft for years. However, negotiations with Apple recently accelerated after a deal to provide iPads to the NBA (National Basketball Association) fell through. The report notes that NHL officials informed teams of the possible partnership.

Though terms have yet to be finalized, sources claim a deal will likely materialize in the near future. One source said:

“It’s possible it could collapse, but it’s pretty far down the path for that to happen.

The NHL Apple deal is more a major partnership than a sponsorship. Right now, some teams have iPads or other tablets and some don’t. Some have good Internet connections, some don’t. This deal is about having a consistent platform that every team can use in every rink.”

Interestingly, MLB spinoff BAMTech is said to be involved in the negotiations, which started life as an arm of league’s Advanced Media division specializing in direct-to-consumer content delivery. The branch quickly grew into a video streaming powerhouse with a long list of huge clients including HBO.

In August, Disney announced a $1 billion investment in BAMTech as part of plans to launch a dedicated ESPN streaming service. The NHL also has a stake in BAMTech and last year agreed to a six-year deal that grants the firm rights to stream certain out-of-market games live.

Today’s report notes that BAMTech is also developing a platform to track the players and the puck. This would reportedly go hand-in-hand with the iPad-based system that would help manage the teams from their benches.