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Matildas ratings success could be costly for Paramount

The Matildas kicked goals for Network Ten over the past week, drawing millions of viewers to both their matchups against China, but this recent case of Tillies fever could result in the network paying an inflated price for the TV rights.

Last Friday night’s 1-1 draw reached 1.55 million viewers nationally, with an average audience size of 637,000 throughout the 90-minute game (plus stoppages and halftime).

It was just pipped at the Friday-night-sporting-ratings post by the night’s AFL game, which pulled 1.88 million, with an average audience of 667,000 – plus the Tillies were against the evergreen Better Homes and Garden and Gardening Australia Friday night combo.

Even the pre-game and post-game shows were watched by an average audience of 402,000 and 417,000.

Monday night’s 2-0 win against China was a roaring success for all involved – Chinese soccer team excluded, of course.

It topped the evening’s ratings, beating both Nine and Seven’s news (routinely top two in the daily ratings), and pulled a whopping 2.62 million viewers to Ten, with an average audience of 1.1 million. Add the 76,798 spectators who broke attendance records at Stadium Australia, and you’ve got an undeniable smash.

However, Network Ten is currently in the final stages — stoppage time, if you will — of renegotiating broadcast rights with Football Australia.

The four-year-extension will run from 2025 to 2028, and includes the 2027 Women’s World Cup, the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup, plus the majority of ­Matildas games.

The Australian reported last week the deal is set to be worth $200 million – double the current four-year, $100 million deal between Network Ten and Football Australia.

Optus Sport paid FIFA a rumoured $20 million for the last World Cup rights – on-selling 15 games to Seven for around $4 million. Football Australia has since teamed with global sports firm IMG to buy the 2027 Women’s World Cup broadcast rights from FIFA – which is part of this proposed $200 million package.

The Albanese Government has added the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the anti-siphoning list, too, off the back of the unprecedented national support for The Matildas during last year’s record-breaking run. This ensures it won’t be behind a paywall, and kept Foxtel out of the race for the rights. Matildas and Socceroos matches are not currently on the Federal Government’s anti-siphoning list.

Football Australia’s James Johnson told the AFR last August, before meeting with all the networks, that “there needs to be a record-breaking investment in our broadcast deal”.

“The reason that we’re looking for that increase in investment through broadcast is because we think it’s deserved … and secondly, we want to be able to reinvest that money back into our programs, so we can continue to lift them.”

According to The Australian, the “deal is all but clinched”, so maybe the deal was done before this latest ratings bonanza. We will report back when we have a solid dollar figure for what is sure to be a record deal.

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