HINCH: The ‘billion dollar deal’ tag has been rolling around the AFL for months now as the tendering dance has gone on for the next five-year TV deal. Seven and Ten seemed to have the front running with a side deal for Foxtel. Then a late dash by Nine. Then Seven and Ten split and Seven went sort of alone. But always Foxtel was there. And it seems it is pay TV that is the big winner [apart from the AFL and Telstra] in the 2012-2017 contract war.
And, if you are not a Foxtel subscriber then you may feel like you, the ordinary fan, has missed out. Free to air footy watchers will get ‘only four games’ a week. But that was all Seven and Ten were broadcasting under the current deal.
The big question is how will all the nine broadcast games fit in. As Brian Taylor points out – and there’ll be heaps more on Sports Today – there are nine games for six slots.
Will this change footy as you know it? Will they now schedule back to back games to fit them in. No more Saturday arvo with a pre-game show, then the game, then the post mortems. It’ll be one game down let’s get the next one started.
AFL: The AFL today announced it had reached agreement with the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra to broadcast AFL matches for the next five years, covering the period 2012-2016.
The agreement will see an unprecedented amount of live football shown to more parts of Australia, across more platforms than at any time in the game’s history.
The Seven Network will broadcast four matches of each nine-match round during the Toyota AFL Premiership Season on free to air television, as well as all finals matches.
Foxtel, on subscription television and IP television, will broadcast every match of every week through the premiership season live, as well as all finals matches through the Toyota AFL Finals Series, with the exception only of the Toyota AFL Grand Final. Every match of every week of the Toyota AFL Premiership season and all finals up to the Toyota AFL Grand Final will be broadcast live in every state.
Austar will have the same rights in its markets. Foxtel will also re-establish a dedicated AFL Channel.
Telstra will broadcast every match of every week through the premiership season, as well as all matches through the Toyota AFL Finals Series, live on its mobile platform.
AFL Commission Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the AFL was delighted to reach agreement with the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra after a long negotiation period, and the Commission now looked forward to the next step in the game's expansion with the support of outstanding broadcast partners.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the need to provide an improved TV outcome for all football supporters across the country was a guiding principle throughout the negotiations.
“This is a landmark agreement that will take the game to more people than ever before, in ways never seen before. It is a great deal for football and a great deal for football supporters who remain the heart and soul of our game,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“The strong financial result also means that we can work with our clubs, our players and our state and territory bodies on a distribution of that result which ensures everyone benefits while also ensuring we continue to keep admission prices, memberships and Auskick registrations affordable to all families.
“In the next five years our supporters will have better access to live games on TV, better access to live games on mobile phones, better access to live games online and, most importantly, that coverage will be better than at any time in the game’s history,” he said.
As well as delivering more live football to more people in more ways than ever before, the agreement will deliver $1.253 billion to the game, as a combination of cash ($1.118 billion) and contra support.
Mr Fitzpatrick thanked AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan and the broadcast team, including AFL General Manager of Business and Legal Affairs Andrew Dillon, Head of AFL Media Broadcasting Sam Walch and Broadcasting, Scheduling and Legal Affairs Manager Simon Lethlean for their work in concluding the arrangements.
AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou said he wished to thank each of the broadcast partners for their continued commitment to Australia's leading sporting code, and said the AFL was delighted with the outcomes achieved in the new agreement.
- Showpiece matches on both Friday night and Saturday night would now be shown live or near live across most regions of Australia.
- On free to air television, Friday night football will be telecast live into Victoria, Qld, NSW, the ACT and Tasmania, near live into SA and on a reduced delay, due to time zone difference, into WA.
- The matches shown on free to air television on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon will be broadcast live nationally, on either primary or multi channels by state, while Saturday afternoon matches will be broadcast live in Queensland, NSW and the ACT on multi channels and on delay in Victoria, SA, WA and Tasmania.
- As part of the free to air arrangements, supporters in South Australia are guaranteed of being able to see the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide on free to air television for all their clubs’ matches, West Australian fans will see West Coast and Fremantle for all matches, Queensland fans will see the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Suns for all matches and, in New South Wales, the GWS Giants and the Sydney Swans will be seen for all matches in that state.
"In addition to our unprecedented coverage on free to air television, Foxtel will provide every match of every round of the Toyota AFL premiership season live on both subscription television and IP television,' Mr Demetriou said.
"Under this agreement, we will end the blackspots in South Australia, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia where some matches were not accessible on television.
"In addition, as we step into the 21st century with new forms of communication and delivery of sport, Telstra will have the rights to show every match of every week live on the mobile platform, as well as at least one live match per week on its IPTV platform," he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Demetriou said the AFL would continue with the task of working with the clubs, AFLPA and other stakeholders to provide a distribution that fairly rewarded players, supported the long-term health of all clubs in the competition, provided state leagues with funding to support volunteers and ensured supporters continued to enjoy affordable admission and membership prices.
"This agreement provides an opportunity to provide rewards for our players, who are the stars of our game, our clubs, who are the lifeblood of our game, and for our fans, who are the heart and soul of the game," Mr Demetriou said.
"The AFL will continue to develop pathways for the next generation of our stars, will continue to invest in communities across the country and will continue to play a leadership role across all parts of society."
Mr Demetriou said the Federal Government had been briefed at every stage of the discussions and that the final deal was in accordance with the commitments given by the AFL to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and the Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the anti-siphoning legislation.
“At all stages we have kept to the commitment we gave our fans and the Federal Government to ensure games continue to be available on Free to air TV while expanding the reach and method of delivery of AFL football to those people who want to watch all games live. The Government should be applauded for getting the balance right,” Mr Demetriou said.
“We look forward to the continuation of an outstanding 2011 season that has started so well on the field, and then stepping into a new era from the start of next year.”
Mr Demetriou also extended his thanks to Network Ten for their involvement in broadcasting AFL over the past 10 years and said they had made a valuable contribution to the growth of the game through their match broadcasts, promotion and support with other football programming.
MORE FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHTS:
This week Gerard Healy and Dwayne Russell opened the show with a interesting conversation about the new footy TV rights deal. Also, callers question the aesthetics of each channel's coverage of games.
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