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Ten interested in A-League rights as SBS looks to offload coverage

Australian commercial broadcaster Ten is interested in acquiring rights for the A-League after it was reported that public-service broadcaster SBS is looking to offload the final two years of its rights to the top division of football in the country, from 2015-16 to 2016-17.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said that SBS is planning to scale back its coverage of football, and will submit a lowball bid to retain rights for the Uefa Champions League European club tournament, from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Football Federation Australia is understood to favour a partnership between Ten and pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports for the next two seasons.

“We'd definitely be able to make a bid for them, no problem,” Ten's head of sport, David Barham, said. “But you've got to see the deal for what it's for and it all comes down to money and all those sort of things.”

Commercial rival Seven is also interested in the free-to-air rights currently held by SBS, the report added.

SBS acquired rights to one Friday night A-League game per week in a five-year deal, starting in 2013, but the broadcaster initially showed live coverage of games on secondary channel SBS 2. The broadcaster has shifted coverage to its primary channel this season, but average national audience figures of about 100,000 have been unimpressive.

The newspaper added that SBS is undergoing a major shift, triggered by the federal government's decision to cut funding to the public-service broadcaster.