AFL agrees 7 year deal with Seven and Foxtel until 2031

The AFL has secured its broadcast future until 2031 with its incumbent partners, Seven Network and Foxtel in a record-breaking deal announced today by the league and outgoing CEO, Gillon McLachlan.

Several media outlets have reported that both saw off stiff competition from local broadcasters with Paramount/Network 10, as well as Nine Entertainment Co. vying for the rights, as well as international player Amazon. McLachlan said the deal is worth a total of $4.5 billion.

CEO McLachlan wanted to see out the deal before his departure

After negotiating a two-year extension running until 2024, the new deal will run for a seven-year period, worth a total of $643 per year, a large increase on the $473 per year figure over the next two seasons.

Nine made a last-minute offer for the entirety of the rights around the $500 million mark, which was ultimately unsuccessful, as several outlets have reported the deal was signed this morning between the successful partners.

The previous rights deal between 2017 and 2022 was worth $2.5 billion, with a reduction coming later after COVID-impacted seasons.

In the press conference, McLachlan said the same amount of games would continue on free-to-air television. With a series of ‘Super Saturday’ events on Foxtel, there will be an additional amount of Thursday night, in order for Seven to fulfil its free-to-air quota. There will be Thursday night games for “at least” the first 15 rounds of the season.

In a long read this morning, Mumbrella looked at the implications of this expected deal, and how it, alongside upcoming rights contests for the tennis, cricket and Olympics will shape the Australian broadcast media landscape for years to come.

Kerry Stokes with Gill McLachlan at Optus Stadium on Saturday

Seven West Media CEO and MD, James Warburton, said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with the AFL until 2031. Securing a comprehensive package of digital rights to the AFL for 7plus was our absolute focus. For the first time, fans will be able to access the best AFL games and video content, live and free, in a way that suits them.

“More importantly, this new combination of broadcast and digital means SWM will be ideally positioned to drive and capture a significant share of the growing total television market.

“Together, the AFL and Seven have made the code the #1 winter sport across the country and we look forward to working with the AFL Commission to extend the sport’s leadership.”

Warburton also called the AFL rights “the most important piece of content that money can buy”.

SWM’s 7plus will be the new home of the AFL for Seven’s fans and advertisers, with a comprehensive package of digital rights secured with this renewal. The 7plus AFL hub will include live and replay matches as well as catch-up rights and highlights packages on video on demand, available live and free on any device, at any time. Seven will also continue to broadcast AFL games on Channel 7 and 7mate.

Seven will pay a 14% increase on the 2024 rights in 2025; with indexation over the term this represents a 3.6% compound annual growth rate in rights fees across the period.

Warburton was also asked about how the new deal impacts its ongoing situation with Cricket Australia. He said it would not be appropriate to talk about cricket today, but added “I would point out that with the AFL we have never had an issue. We have always delivered on our contract”.

For the first time Fox Sports’ commentary and production will be available on all games including alternate commentary feeds, renowned graphic innovations and expanded digital highlights.

Foxtel Group CEO, Patrick Delany said: “With the rights for the next nine years, today marks a new era in our 20-year-long relationship with the AFL as a partner of choice.”

“This extension is great news for sports fans that love Foxtel and Kayo Sports but also the AFL that relies on funding from the Foxtel Group to not only prosper at the elite level but also filter down to support their strong grass roots and community programs. It’s a game for all Australians.”

“We deliver a fan experience like no other, with no ads siren to siren at a price that all Australians can enjoy. Together with 4K on Foxtel and the endless innovation and multi-sport environment on Kayo Sports, these experiences will continue to propel the growth of the game over the next decade.”

“Through our incredible team at Fox Sports, we have no hesitation in investing in the biggest and best production capability in Australia. We will continue to bring the highest-quality analysis, shows and entertainment as well as innovation in production to record breaking audiences and in turn providing unprecedented growth to the AFL.”

Foxtel Group chairman, Siobhan McKenna said: “I would like to thank the AFL family, including the Commission, executive team, clubs, players and all those who have invested their faith in us over the next 9 years to partner in growing and celebrating AFL.”

AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan said: “Footy is the best game in the world. We have the best partners, the best athletes, the best supporters. We saw it on the weekend what it means to people, the connection, the belonging, the passion and this is an historic day for football – not just at AFL level but for football at every level.”

“Our broadcast partnership underpins our game and takes it to the millions of fans who love our sport.”

“On behalf of the AFL, we are proud to continue our partnership with Foxtel and Kayo as we take footy into the future.”


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