A-League relegated to SBS 2
The broadcaster opted to move the coverage from its initial SBS 2 digital channel to its SBS 1 and HD counterparts in an attempt to build on its ratings success following the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Nevertheless, the network is adamant it will continue to deliver coverage of the highest quality to its viewers.
“This season, the A-League returns to its home on SBS 2, where our panel of respected football commentators will deliver first-rate commentary,” a spokesperson from SBS told FourFourTwo.
“Hyundai A-League fans will be able to watch matches live and free on SBS 2 each Friday night from October 9, and SBS will continue to stream all of its Friday games live on The World Game website.
“Moving the A-League from SBS 2 to SBS ONE last season was a strategic move to capitalise on the momentum following the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“Football remains at the heart of SBS and the network continues to work with its football partners to promote the game.”
Furthermore, a slot on the SBS HD seems unlikely with the network refusing to publicly commit to simulcasting the competition on its high-definition channel.
The move, though, has reportedly angered Football Federation Australia, with Nelbie.com alleging that officials are privately disgruntled at the SBS’s decision.
Nevertheless, FFA CEO David Gallop is hopeful that both parties will work together in order to produce a positive outcome.
“It’s been reasonably well documented that FFA and SBS have explored alternatives,” he told Mumbrella.
“We’re expecting (the FTA coverage) to be on SBS2 and we’ll work hard with SBS to make it work.
“We didn’t quite hit the numbers that we’d like to have hit (last season). But if you look across the rosters of the ten teams we think we’re going to have a highly competitive season.
“All that augurs well for setting us up for the next TV deal and talks around that have already commenced.”
SBS became the first network to broadcast the A-League free-to-air to its viewers after winning the competition’s rights back in 2013 on a four-year deal.
It is believed that the recent federal government budget cuts to the broadcaster saw SBS sought to opt out of its contract with two years remaining but underwent a change of heart amid public backlash.