CBS’s investment in Ten could give football a once in a generation opportunity

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    The head of Fox Australia has welcomed CBS’s takeover of Channel 10. Peter Tonagh said that CBS were in for the long haul and would bring plenty of free-to-air TV knowledge with vast experience from the US market.

    The Financial Review estimated the value of CBS to be $28 billion, claiming their support takes Channel 10 from the financial basket case of networks to arguably the strongest.

    The head of CBS said among other things they planned to make themselves a presence in the Australian sports market. That’s welcome news in many ways as we now have Sevem, Nine and Ten as well as Fox, who I assume, along with the telcos like Optus, will be bidding for Australian sport.

    Poor FFA. If only the takeover had been nine months ago.

    But what luck it is for Cricket Australia. Just when things were looking down, here comes a new (or improved) player with deep pockets wanting to establish a presence and possibly bid for cricket rights.

    From what I have read, CBS will be interested in both the NRL and AFL competitions, but they are tied up for another five and six years.

    CBS also has an array of US sports it can show with American football, basketball, golf and more, although they may be affected by existing broadcast deals in Australia.

    So where does this leave football? What opportunity does it offer the sport? Is more revenue possible? What needs to be done?

    All interesting questions. What is known is football will have a match on Saturday night on One, plus Socceroo matches.

    The interesting part to speculate on is whether CBS would be willing to pay reasonable dollars for extra games. The A-League’s expansion to 12 teams could happen in the 2018/19 season.

    However, I recall a gut reaction by Gallop to a question from a Goal.com reporter (for those that don’t know, Goal.com is one of the world’s biggest football article sites].

    The reporter asked after 12 how soon will you go to 14 teams? Gallop replied we will probably go to 16 teams, thus 30 rounds over a home-and-away season. With 14 teams, 26 rounds is too short and 39 to long.

    David Gallop

    (AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS)

    There is a lot of logic in the reply Gallop made so for the sake of it I am going to assume the jump after 12 is to 16 teams.

    Of the various bids submitted to FFA on expansion, finding six teams is feasible, especially if you include the bids of former NSL clubs. Three former NSL bids stand out in Brisbane Strikers with their plans for Ballymore Stadium, South Melbourne with an established stadium, and Adelaide City, who can share Hindmarsh Stadium with Adelaide United.

    Additionally, the Southern Expansion bid has offered to build a $300 million stadium.

    The question then is how much would three extra games be worth? How can they to sell it CBS? Can we select six teams today given all the drama about future systems?

    CBS is a cashed up network looking for Australian sporting content. With the NRL and AFL already tied up for some years, this presents FFA with a once in a generation chance to develop a substantial and well-paid media relationship. We need to be nimble enough to grow six teams quickly and put aside many differences to make it happen.

    The Network Ten deal is only for two years, so why not in three seasons have a 16-team competition with up to four games shown on Ten via the new CBS ownership?

    If we as a sport could pull this off, it could underwrite other football developments which today lack meaningful funding to progress to higher levels.

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