ABC picks up A-League rights in two-year deal

Australian public-service broadcaster ABC has struck a two-year deal with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to provide free-to-air coverage of the A-League and W-League club competitions, as well as matches involving the men’s and women’s national teams.

It will mark the first time that ABC has broadcast the A-League, the top tier of the men’s club game in Australia. The deal also marks a return of ABC’s W-League coverage, with the broadcaster having served as the inaugural partner of the women’s competition from 2008 to 2017.

Under the agreement announced today (Friday) by FFA and its pay-television rights holder Fox Sports, ABC will broadcast 29 live regular-season matches at 5pm on Saturdays during the 2019-20 campaign, with coverage to be shown on television and via the iview on-demand service.

For the A-League 2020 Finals Series, ABC will provide delayed broadcasts of one elimination final, one semi-final and the grand final. It will also show 14 rounds of the 2019-20 W-League season and the entire W-League Finals Series live.

Additionally, ABC will broadcast every men’s national team match which Fox Sports has rights to. The broadcaster will also show the women’s national team’s upcoming matches against Chile on November 9 and November 12, as well as next year’s Asian qualifiers for the women’s Olympic tournament.

Fox Sports will continue to provide live coverage of all A-League, W-League and national team matches via Foxtel and Kayo Sports.

Fox is the in the midst of a A$346m (€210m/$230m) six-year agreement covering the 2017-18 to 2022-23 seasons and was required to give its approval to the ABC deal.

Australian Professional Football Clubs Association chair Paul Lederer said: “To have the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League on a primary free-to-air network is an important evolution in the execution of our broadcast strategy and extends the power and impact of our Fox Sports partnership.

“The ABC’s television, radio, digital and social platforms will allow the Australian professional game to access and engage even more fans through more touch points. The nature of the agreement and the negotiations leading to it are testament to the benefits that exist for all of the parties involved.”

It was reported last month that ABC was close to a rights deal for the A-League, with the FFA confirming that talks were in progress with broadcast partners.

The deal with ABC will mark the first time the A-League has received free-to-air exposure since 2014-15, when public-service broadcaster SBS covered Friday evening matches.

The new A-League season gets underway on October 11.