After paying a visit to the United States in a desperate attempt to boost the revenue they are getting from the AFL’s upcoming broadcast rights management round, the code appears to have been caught in the spotlight with speculation that there was no “massive” offer from Channel Ten and their American parent company.
It also looks like the WA Labor Party wants to show the AFL in HD rather than 4K on Foxtel with a political game of trying to get Free TV which is only shown in HD versus Ultra High Definition.
The Southern States Football Code hoped to generate international interest in the five-year broadcast rights, which come into effect from the start of the 2025 season.
The Australian newspaper claims it was widely reported earlier this year that Ten had filed a $600m-a-year deal to land the rights – which would have been a significant jump on the value of the existing deal – to provided the network can air some matches on its free channel and the rest on its Paramount+ streaming service.
Now it looks like there was no deal.
The AFL had counted on a war between local broadcasters Seven, Nine, Ten and Foxtel who were told several foreign parties were interested in the rights.
It now looks like Foxtel is in a prime position to strike a deal with Amazon Prime whose shows they already air as the advertising market softens due to changing economic conditions.
Another issue that has emerged is that provincial attitudes towards free sports coverage in Western Australia are likely to reduce the value of the final contract after WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan tried to drown News Corp the owners of Foxtel, after West Coast Eagles general manager Trevor Nisbett, Fremantle Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, as well as WA Premier Mark McGowan and the Seven West-owned Australian newspaper launched the idea that matches involving WA clubs would be broadcast exclusively by free-to-air networks.
It is unclear whether the latest move was part of a deal struck by Seven West Media to support Labor and Mark McGowan in the recent federal election.
The Australian claims that if AFL matches involving WA clubs and the two South Australian teams (Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide) are awarded exclusively to a free-to-air network, the value of the global rights will almost certainly fall short of achieve the ambitious goals being monitored by the AFL management team, as the AFL’s appeal to streaming services such as Foxtel and Amazon Prime would be significantly reduced, leaving the AFL with less revenue.
Observers say it would also result in the sport becoming political football to be used by politicians who seem unconcerned that the move will affect the financial results of all AFL clubs – especially those in the states. from the East – which depend on a reduction in the revenue from broadcast rights.
The wild card in the AFL rights negotiations could come in the form of a discussion paper on the country’s anti-siphoning laws, which is believed to have been drafted by the Labor government.
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