Rights fee soars as AFL secures new deals

The Australian Football League, the top division of Aussie rules football, has awarded its next cycle of domestic rights to commercial broadcaster Seven, pay-television operator Foxtel and telecommunications company Telstra.

The rights will cover six seasons, from 2017 to 2022, and will be worth a total of Aus$2.508bn (€1.66bn/$1.84bn), or Aus$418m per year.

This is a 67-per-cent increase on the current five-year cycle, from 2012 to 2016, which is worth Aus$250m per year.

Seven, Foxtel and Telstra will continue to show the AFL in the next cycle, with the former retaining exclusive rights to the Grand Final. Seven will also show games in high definition from the start of the new deal at the latest.

Foxtel, which will show live coverage of every game apart from the Grand Final, has the right to sublicense on one game per round each weekend in the Saturday 3.20pm AEST time slot to a free-to-air provider.

Telstra will broadcast every match on mobile devices.

Foxtel will pay Aus$1.3bn over the six years, with Telstra paying about $300m and Seven paying $840m in cash and $60m in contra.

Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corporation, the parent company of Foxtel, said at the press conference: "We've always preferred Aussie rules and we've always believed this is the premium code in Australia." He added that he would not personally take part in talks over pay-television rights for the National Rugby League, the top division of rugby league in Australia. "I guess we will engage with the NRL in time," he added.