At 3.30pm today, after a 60 minute delay to the scheduled 2.30pm start — as the media huddled in a packed Mike Sheahan Media Room at AFL HQ — the AFL announced its broadcast rights for 2012 through to 2016. The amount was a staggering $1.253 billion for that five year period — the biggest deal in the history of Australian sports broadcasting.

The crux of this deal and how it is broken down is outlined below:

  • $1.253 billion (up from $749 million from last rights).
  • Every game, every week live.
  • Every game live on mobile phone.
  • Free To Air: Seven to broadcast a minimum of four games a weekend.
  • Free To Air: In NSW & ACT live football on FTA every week. Broadcast on 7Mate in these markets.
  • Free To Air: In Vic, Friday night matches broadcast live, 30 min delay in SA and WA. Bounce down for Friday night games will be 7.50pm AEST.
  • Free To Air: 30 minute delay in SA and WA. “Seven also has the right to go live in WA and SA, and it’s expected they will do so on Seven Mate by year three of the agreement to coincide with the analogue switch off.”
  • Free To Air: All finals live on FTA all over the country.
  • Free To Air: In SA, Crows and Port shown on FTA.
  • Free To Air: In WA, West Coast and Freo shown on FTA.
  • Free To Air: In NSW, Sydney and GWS shown on FTA.
  • Free To Air: In QLD, Brisbane and Gold Coast shown on FTA.
  • Free To Air: Seven will entertain a sub licensing agreement to on-sell games to other FTA networks.
  • Foxtel: “Fox Sports AFL HD” — a stand alone AFL only channel on Foxtel — to operate before preseason until a few weeks after the Grand Final in HD.
  • Foxtel: “Fox Sports AFL HD” included in standard sports tier on Foxtel.
  • Foxtel: Every game live, every week, “siren to siren”.
  • Foxtel: All finals live (but not the grand final).
  • Foxtel: Foxtel to use multi channels when games overlap.
    Foxtel: Preseason comp exclusive to Foxtel.
  • Mobile: Every match live on the Telstra mobile platform and T-Box.
  • Austar: All nine games live on HD.

The AFL, in an email out to those on its email list, sprouted today of the upcoming “new deal”:

Unlike Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930 — the American economic programmes created in response to the Great Depression — Andrew Demetriou’s new deal is a staggering broadcast contract that consolidates the AFL’s economic powerhouse standing among elite Australian sport. Make no mistake, the AFL is going from strength to strength, and Demetriou will be smiling all the way to the bank.

While Roosevelt sought to reestablish the USA as an economic power, Demetriou has, in one fell swoop, not only certified the AFL on top of the pecking order but has widened the gap.

AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said it is was a “historic day for Australian football.” Indeed it is. So long as you are willing to pay, every game can be viewed live.

And the new mantra is demand and flexibility.

AFL will be watched, as Fitzpatrick said, “in ways never seen before”. For Demetriou the benefit for the viewers will be that AFL now will be broadcast at “times that suit them and ways that suit them.”

The landscape has changed, and the AFL is much richer for it. So should Foxtel be, as its CEO, Kim Williams, expected subscriptions to rise.

Oh, and for Better and Homes and Gardens fans, the program will still be on Seven, just not before the footy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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