A week
after Foxtel boss, Kim Williams, publicly mused with
his mates in The Australian Media section about the doubtful future of the Fox
Footy Channel, fate has intervened and provided a
solution. Premier
Media Group, the most powerful company in the Australian Pay TV industry, has announced it’s
launching its much rumoured Fox Sports 3 Channel in
October.

It will
be a premium channel, meaning it will be an add-on to the basic Foxtel packages which contain two
Fox Sports channels. And the announcement has
bad news for sports fans. All the A-League soccer will now move to the new channel
and you will have to pay for it – no more freebies on the
existing Fox Sports 1 and 2 channels.

Plus
all the domestic one day cricket that Nine flicked to Premier to cut
costs in April will now cost cricket tragics more money to see. The
Twenty20 and the Pura Cup final will be bonuses. That means in the
space of a few months the domestic one-day series (the old ING matches)
has gone from being free on Nine and pulling around 250,000 to 400,000
(on a good day), to appearing on a premium Pay TV channel and probably
being watched by 10,000 to 20,000 people at most.

No news on the AFL but with the soccer and cricket both summer
sports, there will be a yawning gap next winter that the NRL games,
presently shown on Fox Sports 1 and 2,
won’t be filling.

This is all being
programmed by Premier Media (half owned by PBL and News Ltd) and not Foxtel. Fox
Sports 1 and 2 consistently generate the biggest audiences on Foxtel, especially during the winter months with the NRL and
AFL games. So what Premier wants goes at Foxtel!

Peter Fray

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