Every game, every week…live

The Australian Football League (AFL) kept the media waiting some extra 50 minutes today before announcing its new media broadcasting rights deal for the 2012-2016 period, but it was worth the wait.

The AFL has achieved the magical AUD$1 billion for its TV broadcast rights, in fact it has smashed what at times was seemingly an unachievable figure. The AFL has put pen to paper with Seven, Foxtel (including Austar and Premier Media Group) and Telstra for a new 5 year deal, which revolutionise the broadcasting of sport in Australia, not just through unrivalled delivery of AFL content but also in terms of a monetary value of sports broadcasting rights in this territory.

The new agreement, as AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said at today’s Press Conference will allow

“all AFL supporters across every part of our country [to be]…able to watch Australia’s leading sporting code at times that suit them, in ways that suit them, across free-to-air television, subscription television, IP television and mobile platforms.”

The AFL will collect from the principal broadcast partners over the contract term some $1.253 billion, which is a $473 million increase on the current rights deal and a $753 million increase from the 2002-2006 rights contract (an agreement that was led by a News Limited consortium) . The new contract amount is made up of a $1.118 billion cash component and $135 million contra contribution.

It is not just the contract value which is the lead story out of a long negotiation process, it is the breadth of coverage that will now be available to AFL supporters and sports fans alike. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corporation previously said,

“content is not just king, it is the emperor of all things electronic. Clever technology is merely an empty vessel without any great content.”

The AFL has finally made its “great content” deliverable over clever technology in this new digital media age. Maybe this is the single deal in Australia that will propel other content owners to deliver their content on new platforms as well, all for the benefit of the consumer (of course it also develops new revenue streams for the content owners as well).

In opening the Press Conference at AFL House, Mike Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the AFL Commission said the aim of the contract negotiations and its outcome were to

“….deliver our supporters a better TV deal, wherever they are around Australia. We believe we’ve achieved that. This is a landmark agreement that will take the game to more people than ever before in ways never seen before…better access to live games on TV….mobile phones…online…[and] most importantly that coverage will be better than ever before.”

The key coverage outcomes of the new agreement for 2012 to 2016 of the NAB Pre-Season CUP, TOYOTA AFL Premiership Series, its final series, the Brownlow Medal and TOYOTA AFL Grand Final, are as follows:

Seven Network (Free-to-Air)

  • Host Broadcaster for four (4) games per Premiership Round
  • Broadcaster of the NAB Cup Grand Final
  • Broadcaster of the Brownlow Medal
  • Broadcaster of the AFL Final Series
  • Exclusive Live Broadcaster of the AFL Grand Final
  • Friday Night Football live into Victoria on Primary Channel
  • Friday Night Football live into QLD, NSW and the ACT on digital-only channel 7Mate
  • Saturday Night and Sunday Afternoon Football live nationally on either primary or digital-only channel by state
  • Contractual right to sub-license up to two (2) games per premiership round to another free-to-air network (most likely Nine or Ten)

Commenting on Seven’s rights under the new deal, Seven West Media Limited Chairman Kerry Stokes AO said,

“We are excited to be part of utilizing the available technology to ensure the broadest possible coverage and to work cooperatively with the AFL and Foxtel to deliver a package which achieves everyone’s objectives.”

Foxtel & Austar (Subscription & IPTV rights)

  • Exclusive broadcaster of NAB Cup, excluding pre-season Grand Final
  • Host Broadcaster for five (5) games per Premiership Round
  • Live simulcast rights to all of Seven’s (or sub-licensee’s) matches, excluding Grand Final
  • All matches in High-Definition (or upscaled if free-to-air’s signal originates in standard definition)
  • All matches uninterrupted siren-to-siren regardless of whether a Foxtel exclusive or Seven simulcast match
  • Brownlow Medal simulcast live
  • FOX SPORTS AFL – dedicated AFL-only channel (apart of normal sports subscriber package) – similar to the now defunct but much loved Fox Footy Channel (read more about the demise of Fox Footy here
  • Delivery of all nine weekly games live on IPTV through FOXTEL on Telstra T-Box and FOXTEL on Microsoft X-box Live

Foxtel’s CEO Kim Williams AO commenting on the subscription platform’s new AFL deal said,

“It’s an agreement for the 21st Century which takes all the truly amazing possibilities of digital technology to put the viewer firmly in control of their television viewing and to deliver to them live sports coverage like never before and over a device of their choice.”

Austar CEO John Porter said,

“We look forward to working with our partners at FOXTEL and FOX SPORTS to raise the bar even further, and ensure that our sport offering is a must have for anyone with even a casual interest in AFL.”

Telstra (Internet, IPTV & Mobile Rights)

  • All matches including pre-season, home and away, finals and grand finals, as well as the Brownlow Medal streamed lived and exclusive to mobile phones and tablets on the Telstra NEXT G Network
  • One (1) match per round live on Telstra’s T-Box (without need to subscribe to FOXTEL on T-Box)
  • All nine (9) home and away AFL matches live on IPTV by subscribing to FOXTEL on Telstra T-Box
  • AFL’s website continued to be managed by Telstra

Commenting on Telstra’s slice of the new AFL media rights, Telstra CEO David Thodey said,

“Australians are hungry for AFL content…it’s 89 years since the game was first broadcast on radio and Telstra is delighted to be bringing live AFL to the digital world through Next G Mobiles, tablets and T-Box.”

This agreement represents the coming of age for mobile technology and IPTV. No longer do Australians need to be tied to the lounge-room to catch Australia’s favourite sporting code live.”

Because there is one extra game per round from next year with the introduction of an 18th team, Greater Western Sydney, and to accomodate the new broadcast deal, the AFL has adjusted the premiership round bounce times for a standard round to be the following:

  • Match 1:  Friday night 7:50pm AEST, 8:40pm AEST when played in WA or SA
  • Match 2: Saturday afternoon, 1:45pm AEST
  • Match 3: Saturday afternoon, 2:10pm AEST
  • Match 4: Saturday twilight 4:10pm – 5:40pm AEST
  • Match 5: Saturday night, 7:10pm – 7:40pm AEST
  • Match 6: Saturday night, 7:10pm – 7:40pm AEST
  • Match 7: Sunday early, 1:10pm AEST
  • Match 8: Sunday afternoon, 3:15pm AEST
  • Match 9: Sunday twilight, 4:40pm AEST

Over the coming days FrostGlobal will have more in-depth analysis of the impact of the new broadcasting deal on the broadcast and internet media.


AFL Media Release

Channel Seven AFL broadcast rights statement

FOXTEL to Deliver Most Comprehensive Live AFL Coverage Ever

Telstra Media Release – All AFL Matches live on mobiles, tablets and Telstra T-Box

Demetriou announces record deal

AFL seals broadcast deal

Broadcast deal FAQ

Live footy a boon for fans

ABC Local Radio’s PM Program – Telco becomes TV sport broadcaster in AFL rights deal

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