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Google Asked To Bid For AFL Rights, Game Changer For TV Networks

Google Asked To Bid For AFL Rights, Game Changer For TV Networks

According to Mumbrella Google has been approached about lodging a potentially multi-billion dollar bid for the broadcast rights for the AFL code in a move that  destroy certain free to air TV stations and the likes of Foxtel who rely on sport to deliver big audiences and the advertising dollars that follow.

Mumbrella said that media buyers have confirmed they are aware of talks between the parties which, due to anti-siphoning laws, would have to see the rights sold to Google, for use on its video platform YouTube, but then on-sold with individual AFL matches split across the TV networks in order to comply with legislation, requiring games to be shown on free-to-air.

One senior media buyer with knowledge of the confidential talks told Mumbrella: “Google buying the rights, or even discussing buying the rights is interesting, because it declares their long term intention of distribution of live games through over the top (OTT) content.”

Both the AFL and Google refused to comment on whether there had been discussions about a bid but the code is rumoured to be seeking around a $2bn price tag for the rights, which if the online giant was successful would give them the ability to stream live games on its online video streaming platform YouTube.

Google has increasingly shown a willingness to bid for sporting rights. In 2013 it made a deal for the online broadcast of All Blacks games internationally and it has also previously signed deals to broadcast online the Twenty20 Indian Premier League competition.

There is one big benefit, Google is more than likely to broadcast the event in 1080p over the current pathetic 720p transmission that Nine and Seven currently deliver live coverage of NRL and AFL events.  

On the other hand the AFL could well be trying to entice the free to air TV Companies to bid higher by asking Google to get involved in the bidding rights. 

My sources claim that Google will not bid for the rights unless they have a partnership with a broadband carrier. The alternative is that Google becomes a broadband carrier by leasing space from the NBN and that could be dangerous for Optus, TPG, and Telstra.