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Labor Now Wants To Control AFL Rights, Club Revenue Could Be Hit

After spinning out a visit to the USA in a desperate attempt to jack up the revenue they get from the next round of AFL broadcast rights management of the code appear to have been caught in their own spotlight with speculation that there has been no “massive” bid from Channel Ten and their US parent Company.

It also appears that the Labor Party in WA wants to put the AFL to air in HD as opposed to 4K on Foxtel with a political play at trying to push free to air TV which is only broadcast in HD Vs Ultra High Definition.

The Southern States football code was hoping to generate international interest in the five-year broadcast rights, which come into effect from the beginning of the 2025 season.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 25: Christian Petracca of the Demons and Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs in action during the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Australian newspaper is claiming It was widely reported earlier this year that ten had tabled a $600m-a-year deal to clinch the rights – which would have been a significant jump on the value of the existing deal – provided the network could telecast some matches on its free-to-air channel and the remainder on its Paramount+ streaming service.
Now it appears that there was no deal.

The AFL had been counting on a war between local broadcasters Seven, Nine, Ten, and Foxtel who were being told that several overseas parties were interested in the rights.

Now it appears that Foxtel is in a prime position to cut a deal with Amazon Prime whose shows they already broadcast as the market for advertising softens due to changing economic conditions.

Another issue that has emerged is that provincial attitudes to free-to-air coverage of the sport in Western Australia is likely to cut the value of the final contract after WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan tried to nobble News Corp the owners of Foxtel, after West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett, Fremantle Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, along with WA Premier Mark McGowan and the Seven West-owned West Australian newspaper floated the idea that matches involving the WA clubs be shown exclusively by free-to-air networks.

It’s not known whether the latest move was part of a deal by Seven West Media to support Labor and Mark McGowan during the recent Federal Elections.

The Australian claims that should AFL matches involving the WA clubs, and the two South Australian teams (Adelaide Crows, and Port Adelaide) be awarded exclusively to a free-to-air network, the value of the overall rights will almost certainly fail to reach the ambitious targets being eyed off by the AFL’s executive team because the appeal of AFL to streaming services such as Foxtel and Amazon Prime would be significantly lessened leaving the AFL with less revenue.

Observers claim it would also result in sport becoming a political football to be used by politicians who appear to not care that the move will affect the financial bottom line of all AFL clubs – particularly those in the eastern states – which rely on a cut of the revenue from broadcast rights.

The wildcard in negotiations over the AFL rights could come in the form of a discussion paper on the nation’s anti-siphoning laws, which is believed to have been drawn up by the Labor government.

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