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AFL exploring in-house digital streaming for new rights arrangement

The AFL Australian rules football league is exploring the option of retaining a package of rights from its next broadcast deal to live stream games through its in-house media unit.

The Australian newspaper said the AFL Commission is preparing to retain the rights to at least one match a week. It is proposed that the games will be broadcast online, available to watch for a fee on a match-by-basis basis or through a season-long digital pass.

Commenting on the prospect of an AFL-backed digital streaming platform, the league’s chief executive Gillon McLachlan said: “That’s an option that will come into discussions. What I would say is that we’ve had an incredibly successful partnership over the last few years with Channel Seven in the free-to-air space and Foxtel. If we could continue that in this current form, I’d love that, but we’ll see where those discussions go.”

McLachlan has previously said that the AFL’s new rights arrangement would be different from the existing set-up, with the league open to the possibility of two free-to-air broadcasters sharing coverage as well as selling games directly to fans.

The AFL is expected to set an asking price of between A$1.5bn (€1bn/$1.3bn) and A$1.6bn for its next cycle of domestic rights. The existing five-year deal with commercial broadcaster Seven, pay-television broadcaster Foxtel and telecommunications company Telstra is worth a total of about A$1.25bn and will expire at the end of 2016.

The Australian added a tender process is expected to commence within weeks, with the aim of signing a deal in March or April.