The AFL will reap a major financial windfall after striking a colossal new six-year broadcast rights agreement for $2.508 billion. The new deal will see Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra continue as the League's broadcasters, which will run from 2017 to 2022.
The current deal expires at the end of the 2016 season. The existing deal was effectively worth $250 million a year while the new deal is 67 per cent bigger at $418 million a year.
AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and CEO Gillon McLachlan while announcing the deal were joined by News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes and Telstra CEO Andy Penn, among others.
Channel Seven will broadcast matches in HD free-to-air from the start of the new deal in 2017. The AFL will continue to retain full control of the fixture, including whether the grand final is scheduled as a day, twilight or night match. The AFL fixture will remain at 22 rounds, with nine games each weekend.
Foxtel will continue to broadcast every game, except the AFL Grand Final, which will be aired live on Pay TV. Foxtel will have the right to sub-licence one game per round each weekend in the Saturday 3.20 pm AEST timeslot to a free-to-air provider, if it chooses. Meanwhile Telstra will once again hold the rights for hand-held devices, AFL.com.au and the club digital network. Telstra will broadcast every match on mobile devices.
Murdoch added, “AFL was Australia's premium football code. This is a very significant investment for us. We've always believed that this is the premium code in Australia – it's the national game. We're very happy to be doing this. We believe in the strength of the game and we'll do everything we can to make it stronger."