ABC TV strikes 'landmark' Asian Cup deal

ABC TV could be positioning itself to become a major player in football broadcasting after striking a deal to screen the Socceroos 2015 Asian Cup campaign and upcoming friendly against Japan.

The national broadcaster reached an agreement with rights holder Fox Sports, giving the January tournament in Australia an estimated global TV audience of 800 million.

A daily half-hour highlights package at 10pm on ABC1 is part of the package as Football Federation Australia looks to build the game’s free to air presence. SBS currently screens Friday night A-League live on SBS ONE.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports will screen all 32 Cup matches exclusively live in HD throughout Australia.

In addition to the FTA rights to the tournament, ABC TV will broadcast live next month’s international match between the Socceroos and Japan in Osaka on November.

Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop welcomed the ABC’s involvement in joining FOX SPORTS in bringing the prime-time clash to Australian audience.

“Japan are the reigning Asian champions and will provide a great test in the final Asian Cup warm-up for the Socceroos,” Gallop said.

“I’m delighted that the simultaneous live coverage on the ABC and FOX SPORTS will take this match across the nation and build support for our Asian Cup campaign.”

The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.

The 16 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Palestine.

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off against Kuwait on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.

Michael Brown, CEO of the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee, described the ABC - Fox Sports arrangement as a "landmark" deal.

Brown also thanked the Fox Sports for making a decision “in good faith,” to allow the ABC to broadcast parts of the Asian Cup this summer. 

“This agreement will create an even bigger audience for a once-in-a-generation event that will put Australia firmly in the Asian and indeed global spotlight,” he said.

“It means Australians will be able to watch the key matches on delay on their national broadcaster, as well as enjoying the fabulous live coverage on Fox Sports.

“With less than three months until kick-off, the ABC’s involvement increases the sense of excitement and anticipation around a major world event that is coming to Australian shores for the first time.”     

The agreement with FOX SPORTS allows ABC1 to screen:

•         The three group matches involving host nation Australia on two hour delay

•         Any match involving Australia from the quarter final stage live

•         The Semi Finals and Final live.

ABC radio is also the official Australian radio broadcaster of the AFC Asian Cup.