Television

AFL signs colossal $2.5 billion deal with Murdoch's Seven & Foxtel

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MUMBAI: The AFL will reap a major financial windfall after striking a colossal new six-year broadcast rights agreement for $2.508 billion. The new deal will see Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra continue as the League's broadcasters, which will run from 2017 to 2022.

 

The current deal expires at the end of the 2016 season. The existing deal was effectively worth $250 million a year while the new deal is 67 per cent bigger at $418 million a year.

 

AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and CEO Gillon McLachlan while announcing the deal were joined by News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes and Telstra CEO Andy Penn, among others. 

 

Channel Seven will broadcast matches in HD free-to-air from the start of the new deal in 2017. The AFL will continue to retain full control of the fixture, including whether the grand final is scheduled as a day, twilight or night match. The AFL fixture will remain at 22 rounds, with nine games each weekend.

 

Foxtel will continue to broadcast every game, except the AFL Grand Final, which will be aired live on Pay TV. Foxtel will have the right to sub-licence one game per round each weekend in the Saturday 3.20 pm AEST timeslot to a free-to-air provider, if it chooses. Meanwhile Telstra will once again hold the rights for hand-held devices, AFL.com.au and the club digital network. Telstra will broadcast every match on mobile devices.

 

McLachlan said, "The historic deal delivered for clubs, players, supporters and the community. The deal would provide financial security for clubs and players to allow future growth and certainty. The deal would see resources directed towards the foundations of the game, while growing into new communities to create new generations of supporters, members, players and volunteers."

 

The existing deal was sealed for $1.25 billion in April 2011. AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the new deal will help the League grow its reach over the next decade. "We need to continue to be the first choice for our elite and talented athletes, we need to strengthen our clubs at all levels, and we need to invest in the community level of our game. This agreement with News Corporation, the Seven Network and Telstra will allow us to make the right investment to keep our game strong," he said.

 

Murdoch added, “AFL was Australia's premium football code. This is a very significant investment for us. We've always believed that this is the premium code in Australia – it's the national game. We're very happy to be doing this. We believe in the strength of the game and we'll do everything we can to make it stronger."

 

Kerry Stokes revealed the broadcaster would search for ways to broadcast in HD before the next agreement kicks off. "It's a matter under review. It's been a technical issue for the network, as you're aware, and we're reviewing it again this summer with the hope that we can find a way of bringing high definition to Melbourne," he said.

provides for a separate dispensation in so far as commercial establishments are concerned and hence we hope that the regulator keeps the same in mind while formulating the new tariff regime.”

 

BBC India COO Naveen Jhunjhunwala added, “We strongly advocate a distinction between ordinary and commercial subscribers as far as tariff is concerned since the place of viewing the TV signal and type of usage of TV signals is inherently different in both these categories. Having a global presence, we have seen that the regulators have left determination of tariffs to forbearance thereby ensuring dynamic competition.  With Government focus on making India an easier place to do business, leaving things to market forces will ensure growth and be in line with international scenario.” 

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