I’m old enough to remember when the Cricket was on Channel 9 but if the match was on at the SCG and it was not a sell-out it wasn’t broadcast into Sydney. Oh how times have changed, with a new AFL TV rights deal set to put even 2022’s TV rights to shame.
We’ve become used to TV rights being split between a free-to-air broadcaster and a Pay TV channel, allowing every single game or race whatever the sport might be to be broadcast on TV – something we didn’t have way back in the day.
Currently, the NRL is split between Nine and Fox Sports. The AFL between Seven and Fox Sports. Supercars are on Seven and Fox Sports and the list goes on.
So when a TV rights deal comes up for renewal, there’s a process by which the sport goes through to seek interest from any broadcasters, see if they can wrangle some extra coin for their sport and in turn the participants in it.
Seven won the cricket rights from Nine, Nine took the Tennis, the AFL has been on Ten before – it does happen.
But one constant in the last decade or more has been Fox Sports.
Fox Sports has played the role of “broadcasting the games the Free to Air’s won’t” right through to broadcasting everything in higher quality and without ads in competition with the free-to-airs.
You see, Foxtel isn’t in every home, so the Free to Air networks know they have that advantage for ratings when the big games happen.
However, in recent years we’ve seen Amazon dip their toe in for Swimming, Optus taking some English Football, Stan launching Rugby and recently Motorsport, so the “Home of Sport” crown is now being split across various platforms, and they aren’t all “channels” like Fox Sports always was.
With a new AFL rights deal on the cards for 2025 and beyond, outgoing CEO Gillon McLachlan is keen to sign off on a new deal before his time is up, and with things going the way they are, he’s set to ink the most valuable sporting rights deal the AFL or even Australia has ever seen.
The Age is reporting that not only is Amazon interested in getting the details of what the AFL might want from a broadcaster, but Paramount too has put it’s hand up.
In the original article that struck as being a “streaming service”, but in reality, the details are much more interesting. Paramount owns Channel 10, and The Age again today are revealing that Paramount is not looking for a bit of the action, they’re looking at all the action.
Paramount, through the 10 Network and it’s free-to-air channels, along with Paramount Plus, their streaming service could broadcast every AFL game.
Some would require a subscription, others would be free to air.
So the offer is the same as today, but the difference is, for sports fans, their “investment” in Fox Sports every month was a no brainer as it covered the lot – but with this, it could mean watching the AFL, NRL and Supercars might mean having three different streaming services.
To complicate things further for viewers, don’t rule out a slice and dice approach from the AFL.
In the USA, some sports rights are sold on a day of the week basis. Apple now own Friday Night Baseball in the USA, while EPSN have Sundays.
Imagine a time where you can watch Friday Night AFL on Channel 10, Saturday Night on Fox Sports and Sundays on Paramount+.
Or Fridays on Amazon, Saturday’s on Paramount+ and Sundays on Channel 10. The possibilities are endless
And with these deals still three years away from activating, we don’t know the state of the streaming market or TV market that far out.
But mark my words, Stan and Nine will become joint bidders for things, Amazon will keep their eyes on things, Apple might keep a close interest in developments and Fox Sports will be lifting every couch cushion at their North Ryde HQ to ensure they find every dollar they can to retain their core sports that have been the staple of their business for so long now.
Exciting times ahead, and challenging at the same time for consumers no doubt.