2016 Media Deal progress

On January 12th, 2015, The Australian Financial Review reported that Football Federation Australia was considering ways to get out of its current broadcast contract, presently locked in until the end of the 2016/17 season. The article says authorities expect a big increase on the current deal rising from $35 million per year to $80 million per year.

On March 18th, it was reported that Channel Seven had indicated their interest in purchasing the TV rights for Australian soccer with the Socceroos’ games highlighted by their managing director as a major drawcard.

On March 19th, Channel 10s David Barham confirmed his network was interested.

“We’d definitely be able to make a bid for them, no problem,” Barham said. “But … you’ve got to see the deal for what it’s for and it all comes down to money and all those sort of things.”

On March 19th, it was widely reported that SBS was in the midst of advanced planning to drop the Aleague from its broadcast schedule. SBS was reportedly quite frustrated by a lack of access to premium games, with primary broadcaster Fox Sports requesting the FFA schedule big matches – like most derbies and traditional clashes – on Saturday nights.

SBS denied the report

“SBS has an esteemed 30 year pedigree in football and is committed to the game’s future,” a spokesperson said. “SBS continues to invest its modest resources into content which delivers on the SBS Charter and football, which unites our diverse communities, is an important part of our commitment.”

In June, Adnews reported that while all three commercial networks had expressed interest at least two commercial networks were serious in their desire to attract football to their networks.

In September, SBS made the decision to put the Aleague back to SBS2 with an SBS spokesperson saying

“Moving the A-League from SBS 2 to SBS ONE last season was a strategic move to capitalise on momentum following the 2014 FIFA World Cup and reviewed at the season’s end. This season, SBS has scheduled the A-League on SBS 2 where fans will be able to enjoy their Friday night A-League game for free, with all of SBS’s Friday games streamed live on The World Game website.”

On December 22, Michael Mynch expressed the view that the sooner Gallop and his negotiating team can extricate themselves from their damaged relationship with SBS the more likely the game is to prosper and that  the FFA may find itself forced to choose between money and exposure. The decision it makes will have significant ramifications for the future growth of the game.

FFA believed it had negotiated a deal with Channel Ten – which telecasts the men’s and women’s Big Bash Leagues – to take up the slack from SBS for this season, given that SBS was reported to be keen to get out of the last year of its contract.But that chance fell through because of political and regulatory delays which hindered the approval of a deal which would have allowed Foxtel to buy 15 per cent of Network Ten.

The ACCC  had addressed concerns that the $77 million deal might weaken  competition for  sports rights. Ultimately the Canberra regulators decided that  competition from other networks and streaming services would be strong enough to survive the link up between the pay operator Fox  and the free-to-air broadcaster Ten.

Unfortunately for FFA that approval wasn’t given until late in October, a fortnight after the A-League kicked off, so it was locked into its deal with SBS.

On December 31, The Sydney morning herald wrote that the A-League will never make headway if Football Federation Australia (FFA) does not sacrifice valuable revenue to secure a broadcast deal with a mainstream free-to-air TV network. At least one expert cited said the current A-League product was neither visible nor lucrative enough to lock down a major network for its reported asking price of $80 million a year – double its current arrangement.