Whoever wins the rights will want to deal with these companies that
already operate Internet sites on behalf of football clubs. TWI creates
the Geelong Football Club’s site; Sportal recently became Internet
developer for the West Coast Eagles; and the Sports Australia Media
Group runs North Melbourne’s site. Sportsview has the rights to the
Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Carlton and Melbourne football
clubs. Other clubs, such as the Adelaide Crows, have individual
agreements with local web site developers.

Last year, Telstra made the first play in the Internet game, offering
to buy the exclusive Internet rights of at least 12 AFL clubs. It wants
to centralize all club sites and the AFL’s own site. The deal excluded
club sites then operated by Sportsview as Telstra hoped to deal with
Sportsview separately. It is believed that Telstra was offering
Sportsview the job of creating and maintaining the AFL’s own site in
return for access to its club sites. However, talks ended before
Christmas when Telstra learned that Sportsview had been a rival for the
Melbourne Football Club’s rights, which Sportsview won. Telstra still
hopes to buy out the deals that clubs have with web site developers,
but the state of the Sportsview negotiations is unclear. Sportsview
holds the upper hand as any centralized AFL portal needs access to its
five membership-rich club sites and Eddie McGuire already has ties to
radio and television networks.

Peter Fray

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