TV deal a win for AFL and fans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

TV deal a win for AFL and fans

By Sam Lienert 28/04/2011 07:59:49 PM Comments (0)

The AFL has delivered a football bonanza for pay TV subscribers, more live coverage for those reliant on free-to-air television and a massive pay day for itself.

The league will receive $1.253 billion in cash and contra support from Foxtel, the Seven Network and Telstra for the rights to air the game on television, internet and mobile platforms from 2012-16.

The $1.118 billion cash component of that deal is a stunning 50 per cent increase on the $749 million paid for the current five-year deal, which is in its final season.

That increase is set to prompt a call for a big rise in player payments, with the AFL players' association (AFLPA) having already forecast they want a new deal locking in 25-27 per cent of revenue.

AFLPA chief executive Matt Finnis said the financial boon could underpin salaries on a scale which would ensure the code attracted the nation's best athletes.

"This deal provides a wonderful opportunity for the game, its clubs and players to achieve this goal," he said.

But AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou talked down the prospect of players getting a fixed cut of revenue.

"We don't talk in percentages, the players are entitled to their absolute fair share of the revenues of our competition, they deserve it, we plan to look after our players," he said.

"We don't like tying them to a certain percentage because they may actually deny themselves some money."

Despite receiving the record figure, the winning media bidders have not forced the league into any significant compromises.

The AFL will continue to fix its schedule five months before the start of the season, rather than allow the broadcasters to vary it in-season, as happens with the NRL.

There was no demand for a night grand final, to suit prime time television.

And there was no expectation more games will be scheduled outside the traditional weekend timeslots, with Seven chief executive David Leckie saying his view was Thursday or Monday night games make a round too long.

There will also be significant increases in the breadth and forms of coverage provided around the nation, which AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said was the league's top priority.

"The overwhelming guiding principle of these negotiations was to deliver our supporters a better TV deal, wherever they are around Australia," Fitzpatrick said.

"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."

All matches involving a non-Victorian club will be broadcast on free-to-air television in that club's state, either live or on delay.

In Victoria, the best two games each weekend will be shown live on free-to-air, on Friday and Saturday nights.

Another game will be shown live on Sunday afternoon, with a delayed telecast on Saturday afternoon.

As it stands, the four free-to-air matches each round will be broadcast by Seven, or its secondary channel Seven Mate in NSW and Queensland.

But Seven is expected to on-sell two games per week to either the Ten or Nine networks, or one to each of them.

Seven will also show all finals nationally.

Foxtel was the biggest winner, as they will show every home and away game and every final, except the grand final, live and commercial-free, with their own commentators, as well as having exclusive rights to the pre-season competition.

Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams expected a huge rise in subscriptions as a result.

And Telstra's deal means all matches, including pre-season and finals, will be available live on Telstra mobile phones and tablets.

They will also be part of the yet-to-be-launched Foxtel on T-Box package.

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