Optus deal could provide A-League windfall

Football Federation Australia (FFA) should be expecting a potential windfall for their Hyundai A-League TV rights after Optus secured the exclusive English Premier League rights in Australia, according to respected media commentator Kevin Perry.

Monday’s surprise announcement that Optus had won the rights for the English Premier League over Fox Sports means they have exclusive broadcasting rights for the next three seasons, commencing in August 2016.

Perry, who is co-editor of website DeciderTV.com, believes FFA should expect to negotiate for a higher price on the A-League TV rights now that Optus has entered the football broadcasting market.

“This could be a potential windfall for the FFA with a lot of new players bidding for the rights,” Perry told FourFourTwo.

“For the A-League in particular, the FFA are about to go into their TV rights deals where they are going to try and double the amount of money that they are hoping to get.

“It’s going to be interesting if companies like Optus actually bid for domestic football and have a package of A-League and EPL on Optus.

“So Fox Sports are going to bid against companies like Optus, like Telstra and other Pay TV providers like ESPN and beIN sports who have also expressed interest for these TV rights.”

After Monday’s announcement an Optus spokesperson said that, along with other sports, the A-League and Socceroos was a potential interest for them.

“I can’t comment on any other codes that we might be interested in, but we’ll look at sports and other entertainment properties if it makes commercial sense, and it can add value to the Optus brand, and it helps build a bigger, better mobile experience for our customers,” they said.

Optus’ deal with the EPL includes live broadcast coverage and digital rights for broadband and mobile for all 380 Premier League games each season.

The Optus spokesperson added that any details about how the games would be broadcast on various platforms including television would not be announced at this stage.

“Our goal is to make this content available to as many fans as possible – but we’re not going in to detail about distribution platforms at this stage. We’ll have more to say about this in due course,” they said.

Perry believes that Optus has many options with regards to how it will broadcast the EPL and may even sell back some of the rights back to Foxtel, but will predominantly use its own platforms to broadcast the games.

“Optus has their own TV service, it’s called Fetch TV which is its own Pay TV system except that it’s delivered over the internet,” he said.

“So I think Optus will put all of the games on Fetch TV but I think they will also sell some of the more premium games the matches of the week back to someone like Fox Sports or ESPN or maybe one of the free-to-air networks.”

Whether Fox Sports would consider buying some games off Optus, a spokesperson for the broadcasting company said that it was too soon to speculate.

“Given this has just been confirmed and without knowing how Optus plan to package and distribute the content, it is too early to answer,” they said. 

However, Fox Sports admitted they did all it could to win the rights.

“Fox Sports is disappointed that we were not successful in our bid to retain the rights. As the foundation broadcast partner of the league in Australia, we made a strong and realistic bid for the rights to the 2016-2019 period,” the spokesperson said.