Have Australian football fans been let down?

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                                      Where do I begin?

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Optus publicly announced today that they will sub-licence exclusive free-to-air TV rights of one English Premier League game a week for the next three seasons.

When I first saw the announcement ‘SBS strike EPL deal with Optus’, my reaction was immediately filled with intrigue and anticipation.

Once I dug a little deeper I realized that the deal was not as pretty pictured as it seemed on the surface.

My heart dropped when I saw that SBS had agreed to give up more than 50% of their World Cup free to air

live broadcasting rights.

http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2016/03/17/sbs-strike-epl-deal-optus

It means fans will only be able to watch 25 games live, not including the knock-out stages, whilst the other 39 matches will be aired live on Optus Fetch TV.

I was fortunate enough to attend the last World Cup in Brazil, but for the many millions of Australian’s that weren’t, SBS has been their go to destination for LIVE free to air World Cup football!

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Even SBS director of sport Ken Shipp knew the significance that the coverage had on Australian sport fans.

“SBS’s coverage extended across TV, online, radio, mobile, tablet and social media and it paid off, with SBS reaching 10.7 million Australians with our TV broadcast, over 13 million video streams viewed and the SBS World Cup app download more than 400,000 times. SBS radio offered commentary in 15 languages, the largest ever by a broadcaster in World Cup history.”

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So this makes me question why SBS would take that away from us just for one live EPL match a week?

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE A-LEAGUE? 

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Optus will soon announce their full package for their English Premier League broadcast. This media release was sent out today:

https://media.optus.com.au/media-releases/2016/optus-unveils-plans-for-the-english-premier-league/

The unwritten truth is that the majority of fans will jump ship from Foxtel to Optus, due to the high demand for exclusive live English Premier League games.

It’s unlikely fans will be able to afford both packages meaning it would be detrimental for the A-League.

For non Optus subscribers, basic bundle is $70 a month including Fetch TV. Already existing Optus users will pay $15 per month for standalone box. An announcement on actual prices for a Premier League package won’t be released until June this year.
Football Federation Australia are currently on the hunt for a new A-League broadcasting deal.

If the A-League sign on with Fox Sports are they at risk of losing public audience?

Will the A-League be left behind if they stick with Fox Sports or could a change open up the doors for a free to air channel to buy the rights?

What I do know, is that all of these decisions will have major repercussions on the future of the A-League and the direction of the world game in Australia.

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By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here)

Photography- Aleks K  (He’s also on twitter here)

 

Ari Charilaou