Optus Go After A League Fox Sports Under Threat
Fetch TV could be a big winner if Optus are able to get the rights to the A-League and a number of Socceroos matches.
Optus CEO Allen Lew who last week was defending a botched PR announcement, about their recent $65M deal to snare the rights to the English Premier League, who ended their season last night, has admitted that Optus is in talks with the
Football Federation of Australia who hold the broadcast rights. He has also said that the Company is not “revisiting” their current offer.
“We’re looking at it seriously,” Mr Lew told Fairfax Media. “If it makes sense and it adds value to what we are providing football fans, at a commercial deal that we feel is fair, then we will see how we can bring it across. But, it’s early days and let’s see what happens.”
Optus is working with Fetch TV to deliver a 24-7 dedicated football channel that will be available on Fetch TV boxes.
By signing A-League and Socceroos matches Optus and Fetch TV will have access to a “massive” followers base especially as Soccer is growing faster than NRL or Rugby Union in Australia
The move if successful could be a blow to both SBS and Foxtel.
“Having got EPL we will build a content suite around people who are football fans,” Mr Lew said.
“We will be building something around that to engage football fans when there is no live game, or nothing interesting to watch in terms of football.”
Optus recently faced criticism over its planned coverage for the EPL, which it secured as part of a $189 million deal. The service will only be available to Optus customers and Mr Lew was adamant that the telco would not revisit that strategy.
“One principle that we will always stick to is that you have to be an Optus customer to get it because it’s something that is a key differentiator for us. I cannot move away from that principle,” he said.
“On an individual basis, we will see what we need to do to solve some of these problems for customers.” he told Fairfax.
Among networks looking at A League rights is the Ten Network who is keen on a Saturday night A-League game.
Optus signed a deal with SBS, following the telco operator’s acquisition of rights to the EPL, that allowed the television broadcaster to show one match per week on Saturday nights for the next three seasons.
The agreement with SBS gave Optus broadcast rights to FIFA events, including the 2018 men’s World Cup and the 2019 women’s World Cup.
The FFA has been engaging with a number of interested parties and official negotiations began in late April, as first revealed by Fairfax Media.
Incumbent rights holder Fox Sports, which is keen to hold onto the rights, has first and last rights and has held rights to the A-League since its inception in 2005.
Fox Sports chief executive Patrick Delany told Fairfax Media that the A-League is an important property to the pay TV sports provider.
“We have been an unfalteringly strong supporter of Australian football and specifically the A-League and that dates along way back to the time when the A-League was only a glimpse in the eye of Frank Lowy,” Mr Delany said
“We’re committed to continue to work with the FFA and the football community to build on what’s happened in the last 10 years and continue to mission of making football more popular in Australia.”