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Optus seizes Australian broadcast rights to EPL

Arsenal could still snatch a Champions League berth. (AFP, Ben Stansall).
Editor
1st November, 2015
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In a huge change to current broadcasting arrangements, Optus has surprised many by announcing it has bought the exclusive Australian rights to the English Premier League for three seasons, starting August 2016.

Optus already captured digital rights from Cricket Australia to broadcast the Australian summer of cricket, and this new deal suddenly takes more ground off Fox Sports, and by association half-owner of Foxtel, Telstra.

Telstra have already secured the AFL’s digital rights for the period of the next deal, and are reportedly in negotiations with the NRL about the next phase of those digital rights too.

The AFR reports that Optus chief executive Allen Lew offered a stunning $50 million-plus offer for the rights, a bid “significantly higher” than the offer lodged by Fox Sports, the current EPL broadcaster. A pillar of the aggressive bid is online subscription provider FetchTV, to provide digital streaming.

Fox Sports has yet to re-sign the NRL pay-TV rights, following a free-to-air deal led by then CEO Dave Smith to award significant rights to the Nine Entertainment Group in August.

Questions and Answers:

Q. So, hang on, does that mean the EPL won’t be on Fox Sports?
A: That’s right. No EPL on Fox for the 2016/17 season onwards for three years, unless Optus decide to on-sell the rights. However, it’s hard to see that happening, given Fox Sports are part-owned by Telstra, Optus’ major rival.

Q: How will Optus show games?
A: Via a Fetch TV subscription, most likely. For those with Optus on mobile or tablet, via an app.

Q: How much is Fetch TV? (and what is it?)
A: Generally, Fetch TV is a set-top box plus subscription service, similar to an Apple TV or the new Telstra TV. How much it costs and what you’ll get is broken up below.

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A1: For those with Optus/Optus-wholesale ISP – right now, Fetch TV costs $15 a month for a basic subscription, with an ‘Entertainment’ package costing $15 in addition. That currently includes ESPN and many Foxtel stable channels like National Geographic, MTV, etc.

With the huge cost of the EPL deal, we’d expect the EPL to be an additional cost, so a minimum of around $30 per month looks like a sensible base point.

A2: For those not on Optus/Optus-wholesale ISP, a Fetch TV starter pack retails for $399 RRP from places like Harvey Norman. There’s no on-going cost to use it from there, but the same $15 ‘Entertainment’ package is required.

You can’t get Fetch TV on a device like an Apple TV or Roku.

Fetch TV has HBO’s Game of Thrones as part of a paid-for option, where you buy a TV show to watch, rather than have it part of a subscription.

The full announcement from Optus runs below:

Optus today announced it has won the bid for the exclusive Australian rights to the Barclays Premier League for three seasons, commencing in August 2016.

This includes live broadcast coverage and digital rights for broadband and mobile for all 380 Premier League games, every season.

Allen Lew, Chief Executive Officer at Optus said, “This is another significant step in our strategy to become a mobile-led multimedia company.

We are dedicated to delivering the best domestic and international entertainment for our customers. With 930 million followers worldwide, the Premier League is one of the most sought after sports properties for content providers.

Today’s announcement is a great win for Optus and will ensure that Aussie football fans can watch all the action from the world’s most popular football league,” Mr Lew said.

Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman at the Premier League said, “We are extremely pleased that Optus has chosen to invest in our broadcasting rights for the three seasons 2016/17 to 2018/19.

“They have an excellent track record as a multifaceted telecommunications company in Australia and we look forward to working with them to make all the best Premier League content available to our fans across the country,” Mr Scudamore said.