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Sports broadcasting in Australia reaches crisis point

Is there enough sport on FTA? (Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
9th January, 2019
9

Fox Sports have become a powerhouse in Australian sports broadcasting following the demise of C7 Sports in the early 2000s.

However, with the increasing number of sports behind the pay wall, it appears it is time for the three major free-to-air networks to work together to gain back control of sports broadcasting in Australia.

We are beginning to see food and lifestyle multichannel appear on the FTA box and soon I would propose that the big three networks add a sports channel too.

Seven are trying to make themselves the FTA home of sport in Australia so why not have a 7Sport channel?

Nine could use their Wide World of Sports platform to create their own channel too, 9WWOS.

Network 10 tried it in 2010 with the launch of One which was supposed to be Australia’s first FTA 24/7 sports network but as soon as Fox began to see it was a threat to the subscription network, it got shut down. It is now 10 Bold following 10’s rebrand late last year.

James Tedesco

James Tedesco (C) of the Roosters during the NRL grand final. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The three networks should share the sports. It is alarming that since 2010, 10 has lost the AFL, cricket, swimming, Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and basketball among others.

The networks need to realise that to gain an audience, live sport is the way to go.

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10 All Access was launched at the end of last year and that could be a way for the channel to re-enter sports broadcasting for the major sports of AFL, cricket and NRL.

If there is anyway to beat the pay wall and limit the sports accessible to Fox, then Seven, Nine and Ten must work together to build a force that is unbreakable. Even if it means that the three networks are required to share the sports then that might be the way to go.

Obviously everything cannot be on free to air television but the majority should. Having the Asian Cup and limit overs matches in Australia only on Fox Sports is very alarming. Kayo Sports has come into the sports broadcasting market in the past month but lets be honest- it is the same as Fox Sports and still does not fix the present issue being that more sports are being sold to Fox Sports today than ever before.

Optus tried to break into the sports broadcasting market recently with Optus Sports but failed dismally with a disastrous telecast of the FIFA World Cup last year, following on broadcasting the cricket on their platforms. It seems to me that Fox is getting away from bullying the FTA networks.

The reason that SBS got the Ashes in 2009 was that the anti-siphoning list states that the Ashes MUST be shown on FTA in Australia. The same is with the One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals.

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Channel Seven have the rights for them but are not willing to use them. By law, that means that either Nine, the SBS, ABC or 10 should be given these matches if they wish. 10 placed a bid for the cricket but were screwed over by Cricket Australia so therefore they should have been given the limited overs cricket.

Fox Sports subscribers definitely get bang for their buck however the average Australian is being told they cannot watch our nation’s greatest hobbies- sport.

The last time that a broadcast rights deal was shared between FTA networks was for the AFL between 2007-2011 when Network 10 and the Seven Network held the rights for FTA Football coverage in Australia.

Network 10 did great things for the AFL including broadcasting more games into Queensland and New South Wales than any broadcaster did before. 10 had the chance to get back AFL coverage but were denied from Fox Sports which means that less games are broadcasted today than what was the case in past broadcast deals.

Australians love their sport and it is a sad sight to see many being unable to watch the sporting superstars because the majority of sports are now behind the pay wall.