Contributed by: Brett Northey
The biggest story in AFL circles in recent weeks has been which television networks will secure the broadcast rights to the Australian Football League for the next 5 years. The total size of the bids have been big increases on the previous record deal, which should see a major increase in money flowing into the game. There have already been calls for increases to clubs, grass-roots footy, player wages and of course international footy development organisations will be putting up their hands.
In breaking news Channel 10 has announced that the Channel 7 and 10 groups have increased their offer to the AFL for the TV rights, matching the massive AU$780 million over 5 years of the Channel 9 bid.
Channel 7 was the long-time broadcaster of Australian Football but was trumped by a Channel 9 - Channel 10 and Foxtel (cable) deal in the last TV rights bid. Channel 10 jumped ship to Channel 7 for the forthcoming period, starting from 2007. In what was seen as the last major financial act before passing away, Kerry Packer, head of PBL, appeared to ensure 9 would retain the rights by offering the AFL effectively 50% more for the new period than the last. The offer is a combination of cash and so called "contra" - cross promotional opportunities etc. There has been speculation that 7 and 10 could not match the deal or if they did they would be pushed to the very edge of profitability.
A key requirement of the AFL was better coverage into the developing footy states of NSW and Queensland. It was not clear how or if Channel 9 would meet that, and the new 7 and 10 bid was probably also going to downgrade that importance in order to raise the cash offer. Channel 10's announcement was made on their television news service around noon on Thursday 5th January 2006. It implied that the AFL was obliged to accept their offer, given that it matched Channel 9's in dollar value and due to the complicated "last rights" arrangement which 7 and 10 had previously paid extra for so that they could make the final offer and only have to beat their competition by a nominal amount.
It remains to be seen whether there are any further twists in the story. Presumably the AFL will have to thoroughly examine the details before announcing its final decision.
Update: More information contained in an article in The Age - Seven and Ten release AFL bid. It quotes the 7/10 group as saying "Ten and Seven will match the offer made by Publishing and Broadcasting Limited to the Australian Football League including the consideration, namely $780 million ($87.5 million of which is contra) over five years, with such consideration to be shared between Ten and Seven based on match allocations across all television media". The tone of the release is that it is a "done deal", but obviously the AFL will need to examine it first.
See also Channels match Nine's offer for AFL TV rights and the ABC News website.
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