Foxtels Cuts New ESPN Deal, As Speculation Over Future Of Optus Sports Surfaces
Foxtel whose long-term investment in sport, is paying off with record NRL and AFL audiences has announced a new multi-year, multi-platform agreement with the Disney owned ESPN that will give Australians access to a multitude of US sports.
With new movies and TV shows set to be hit by the Hollywood actors and writers strike, sport is seen as a key asset for streaming Companies such as Foxtel, who have pioneered sports coverage in Australia with the network being the only mainstream broadcaster to deliver, live 4K sport in Australia.
The new ESPN deal which will deliver US sports such as NBA, NFL and MLB to both Kayo and Foxtel.
Last week Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the content giant, plans to transition ESPN from a legacy sports network into a streaming platform, and is eyeing strategic partners to assist in the process.
Foxtel and News Corporation have been investing in sport for decades now big tech companies like Apple, Amazon, or Google parent Alphabet stand to benefit, as all three are investing heavily in sports content and expanding their streaming options in a move that is set to be challenging for local streaming Companies claim analysts.
Falling free to air and in the USA cable TV viewership is a major reason Disney is considering looking for new partners for ESPN who can expand the reach of the sports network.
ChannelNews understands that Disney who own the controlling shares in ESPN are looking for a partner who can expand the reach of the network as opposed to selling off a chunk of their shares in the sports broadcaster.
Currently Optus is putting a lot of effort into Optus Sports in Australia, in an effort to get a return on the UK Premier League investment, while using this week’s Women’s World Cup to spruik Optus Sports.
Ironically, they have chosen financial media including the AFR and The Australian to spruik their broadcast studios as opposed to media who cover the content and technology market.
Some observers believe that Optus Sports, will eventually be sold to one of the major global streaming Companies with Paramount, who have missed out on several sports rights deals recently seen as a potential buyer and that their latest PR exercise is seen as a grandstanding exercise in an effort to build the profile of Optus Sports.
Foxtel management claim that their new agreement with Disney for additional sports rights, builds on the 21 years of programming arrangements between the Foxtel Group and ESPN, which has been providing world-class sport to Australian audiences since 2002.
Kayo viewers in Australia will get access to National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), UFC and all marquee events across US College Sports – with this agreement ensuring select matches will be available to Foxtel and Kayo Sports subscribers each week during those seasons.
ESPN is also available on Fetch TV.
In addition to enhancing Foxtel Group’s live sports offering, ESPN also provides access to a huge volume of original programming, including flagship studio shows like SportsCenter, First Take, Pardon The Interruption, NBA Today and NFL Primetime, along with documentaries and special features, including ESPN Films 30 for 30 catalogues.
Foxtel Group Executive Director – Commercial, Sport Rebecca McCloy, said: “We are proud to be the home of Australia’s biggest and most popular sports through Foxtel and Kayo Sports – it’s great news for our millions of sports subscribers that this deal will ensure they continue to have access to the best of ESPN’s world-class sports.
“We know how popular ESPN’s coverage of sports like the NBA, NFL and MLB is with our subscribers. This deal complements long-term rights agreements we have with the National Rugby League, Cricket Australia, the Australian Football League, Supercars Australia, the PGA of Australia, Netball Australia, and many others – which show that we truly are the home of Australia’s most popular local and global sports.
“These rights, and the strength and quality of coverage from Fox Sports and partners like ESPN, is continuing to drive the growth of our award-winning streaming service Kayo Sports – which now has more than 1.3 million subscribers.”
The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, said: “We are pleased to extend our long-standing relationship with Foxtel Group. This multi-year deal provides Australian sports fans with access to a comprehensive slate of ESPN programming, including our award-winning films, flagship studio shows and extensive major sport properties”.