Ben Jensen 18 August 2015

AFL TV RIGHTS DEAL AFL BOSS GILLON MCLAUCHLAN this evening along with Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick inked a multi-lateral media rights deal with News Corporation, Seven West Media and Telstra worth $2.508million. Heavyweights from each organisation were present including none other than News and 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Seven mogul Kerry Stokes and Telstra CEO Andy Penn; Murdoch's News CEO Robert Thompson rounded out the multi-millionaires' club.

The deal sees Seven obtain three games per week down from four while News' Fox Sports/Fox Footy gains a sixth game though it was pointed out that they can sub-contract this mid-Saturday afternoon (3:20PM) game to 'a free to air network' - odds are this will go to Channel Ten who will soon be just under 15% owned by the Telstra and News owned Foxtel.

The deal does not cater for any change to a Saturday afternoon Grand Final though Stokes cheekily outlined that he'd prefer to see a twilight fixture- while McLauchlan giggled "We did make the point that twilight games happen to get more ratings than day games do. And if one wants to be the most watched Grand Final in Australia it would seem sensible it might be at twilight. I hasten to say we have not put any conditions. The AFL control the schedule and we accept that."

Happily, Stokes also confirmed that all Seven games will be in high-definition (HD) from 2017 when the new deal kicks in, and hopefully earlier than that. "It's a matter under review. It's been a technical issue for the network, as you're aware, and we're reviewing it again this summer with the hope that we can find a way of bringing high definition to Melbourne". We don't want to give the man a hard time but it's hardly rocket science- from 2009 Channel Ten's ill-fated One HD channel simulcast the Grand Final and in fact most games until it was decided to pull AFL off the One channel, coinciding with the Murdoch/Packer/Rinehart takeover.

In addition to their 50% owned interest in Foxtel, which is separate to News' 100% owned Fox Sports but does profit from covering AFL, Telstra has the rights to the AFL app, streaming to phones and pads, plus the and club websites though the content for that is now produced primarily by AFL employees. It will also hold the IPTV rights, streaming to boxes like the T-Box and whatever device replaces it.

The Saturday afternoon game kicking off at approximately 2PM will permanently move to 3:20PM which is bound to upset some. Let's hope for Geelong the games on Saturday are at night or start in the earlier slot.

What they said

"The AFL’s challenge is to stay Australia’s game, and this new agreement for the next 6 years gives our game a chance to invest in the future. This is about investment in supporters, our clubs, our players and the community. The job of my team is to provide a recommendation to the Commission about what's the right balance in all of those four, and I don't think you prioritise one over the other, it's getting the balance right and making the right investment decisions, and that's going to be a key priority over the next 12 to 18 months." – Gillon McLachlan, AFL CEO.

"The last ten years have been about expansion and investment in the AFL competition. Over that period, we added two new teams and invested in stadiums and infrastructure at the elite and community level around Australia. Senior AFL football is now played in every state and territory. Our challenge over the nextdecade is to make the right investments to grow our reach into every state, region, town and community." – Mike Fitzpatrick, AFL Commission Chairman.

"At the end of the day, this whole agreement is about one basic thing – it's about the football. Sometimes we lose sight of that. But we'd like to play football every day of the week, Good Friday included. You could raise some extra money for the Good Friday Appeal and that would be appreciated." – Kerry Stokes, executive chairman of Seven Group Holdings and executive chairman of Seven Network.

"It's a very significant investment for us. We've always believed this is the premium code in Australia, it's the national game. We're also committing to and all our platforms support AFL everywhere, in every state, so we're very happy to be doing this, we believe in the strength of the game and we're doing everything we can to make it stronger." – Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corporation and 21st Century Fox.

"We believe Aussie Rules is a great game, and our intention is to make it even greater. It's an influential game and we intend to make it even more influential by complementing a wonderful sport with the powerful platforms we have in this country, and that includes the power of print as well as the depth of digital. We will ensure more people see more games of football and its reach is extended." – Robert Thompson, CEO of News Corporation.

"We've had a wonderful partnership and we've been able to bring live footy to every mobile device in Australia, to every fan in Australia that's on the move. If you watch it on a Telstra Network, it will be even better again but we're very much looking forward to continuing to provide you with the technology and the digital innovation that is going to transform the experience of fans watching AFL footy in the future." – Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra. - Australia's Largest AFL and NRL Online Merchadise Store

AFL CEO official statement

IT IS a great day for our game, the game that so many Australians love and care about.

I said when I became CEO that it is my job to deliver for four masters - supporters, clubs, players and community.

I am really delighted that this agreement delivers for those four pillars of our game:

- For our supporters – we are delivering maximum reach and maximum exposure, and we the AFL remain in charge and in control of our fixture.
- For our clubs and players – we are delivering financial security to allow future growth and certainty.
- And for the community – this agreement will allow us to focus resources to the foundations of our game – to ensure they stay strong, and grow into new areas, into new communities, to create new generations of supporters, members, players and volunteers. .

The AFL's challenge is to stay Australia’s game.

And this new agreement for the next 6 years gives our game a chance to invest in the future.

I am going to take a bit of time to outline the key elements here:
- This is a six-year agreement from 2017 to the end of the 2022 season.
- The AFL continues to have full control of the production of the fixture, including the scheduling of the Grand Final.
- The AFL season will continue to be a 22-match season for each of our clubs, with a standard round of 9 matches.

Outside of Thursday night matches, and public holiday schedules and bye/split rounds, the competition will have:

- 1 Friday night game
- 2 Saturday afternoon games
- 1 Saturday twilight game
- 2 Saturday night games
- 2 Sunday afternoon games
- 1 Sunday twilight game

The AFL's agreement with our partners will cover:

- The Seven Network for free to air
- News Limited for Subscription Television across Foxtel and the Fox Footy Channel
- Telstra for the Live AFL App,, club digital network and IP TV.

The agreement covers six seasons from season 2017–2022, and will deliver the AFL a financial return of $2.508 billion.


Thanks to Kerry Stokes and Ryan Stokes and the Seven Network for your continued support of our game. Seven and Kerry Stokes have been an extraordinary partner for the AFL for decades and I thank him for their continued support.

Seven Network holds the Free to Air rights, and includes:

- The Toyota AFL Grand Final exclusively live in every state and territory.
- The Brownlow Medal count exclusively live in every state and territory.
- All matches in the Toyota AFL Finals Series live in every state and territory.

During our Toyota AFL premiership season, the Seven Network will broadcast:

- Each Friday night match live in every state and territory.
- One Saturday night match live in every state and territory.
- One Sunday afternoon match in the 3.20pm Eastern Time zone slot live in every state and territory.
- In addition, the Seven Network will telecast a further 11 games live across the season that are played on public holidays, the eve of public holidays such as Anzac Day / Easter Thursday and between 5-6 Thursday night games.
- In effect, across an average two normal rounds of 18 matches in our regular season, the Seven Network will broadcast seven games, equating to 3.5 matches per round across the season.


- All of the matches for the NSW/QLD teams – the Gold Coast Suns, the Brisbane Lions, the Sydney Swans and the GWS Giants – will continue to be shown LIVE on free to air television.
- As our game develops across the country, this support from the Seven Network is pivotal for us.


- In Western Australia and South Australia – where the Adelaide Crows, Port Adelaide, West Coast Eagles and Fremantle dominate the sporting landscape, matches will be shown on free to air television, but three matches for each team in the premiership season will be broadcast on a delayed basis.


Thanks to Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson on behalf of News Corporation. Mr. Murdoch is a legend of world media and I want to thank him for his personal support in this agreement.

- All nine games each week - every game of every round during the premiership season, to be broadcast live;

- Across an average of two normal rounds of 18 matches in our regular season, Foxtel and the Fox Footy Channel will produce the broadcast for 11 matches, equating to 5.5 matches per round, while broadcasting the other matches live.

- News Corporation has the right to sub licence one game per round each weekend, which would be played in the Saturday Eastern time zone slot of 3.20pm, to a free to air provider, if it wishes to do so.

- With the exception of the Toyota AFL Grand Final, all other matches in the Toyota AFL Finals Series will be broadcast live.

- In Western Australia and South Australia, Foxtel and the Fox Footy Channel will exclusively broadcast live three premiership season matches for each of the teams based in those states – West Coast, Fremantle, the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide – with those matches to be replayed on delay on free to air television.


I want to thank Andy Penn and Gordon Ballantyne from Telstra. Our relationship with Telstra has delivered Australia’s number one digital sports property and we are very pleased to be continuing that relationship. Simply, they have been a great partner and I want to thank Andy for his faith.

- Telstra will again hold the AFL rights for all hand-held mobile devices, the AFL website – – which is the most-visited sporting website in Australia, the club digital network and IP television.

- Telstra will deliver every game, every week, live, in the palm of your hand, no matter where you are in this country.

Finally I want to thank my team. I won’t thank them individually, but they have made an extraordinary effort over the last few days.










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