Fox Sports have done a lot for the A-League. Beginning their partnership with the FFA back in 2005, they have broadcast every single match to date.
The amount of money they have poured into Australian football over 15 year is significant.
But all good things eventually come to an end. There are still three full seasons to run on the current rights deal between FFA and Fox Sports, but beyond that it’s no sure thing the broadcaster will re-up on the deal.
Viewing figures for recent television broadcasts and live streaming of games are worrying. There seems to have been a shift to putting more emphasis on sports such as AFL and rugby league over at Fox.
It’s understandable when you look at the value of their respective agreements with those sports. Both rights agreements blow the A-League deal out of the water in the dollar amount as well as viewing figures.
There is currently no standalone panel show covering football on Fox after Sunday Shootout was axed in the last off-season. Its quasi-replacement this season seems to be a quick wrap up of the weekend’s action within the post-game coverage of the final match of the round.
You could make the argument Fox Sports’ interest in football in general has been on a steady decline since losing the English Premier League rights to Optus back in 2015.
So, where does this leave the A-League?
A pessimist would probably say the A-League will end up in a coffin without the partnership of Fox Sports.
An optimist could point to the way Optus has been gradually building up its collection of football broadcast rights to various competitions and see a place in its stables for the A-League.
Optus’ first foray into Asian football was their recently completed deal to screen the region’s premier domestic club competition, the J-League.
Optus already boasts an Australian-based production operation for panel shows, such as their Scores on Sunday show (which touches on the A-League) and Champions League pre- and post-game coverage.
They have yet to produce an entire match-day broadcast, but it doesn’t seem like something that would be unreasonable for them to do. Current on-air talent such as Richard Bayliss, John Aloisi and Michael Bridges all previously covered A-League matches for Fox.
If Fox were to lose the rights, their talent would be out of work. Optus would do well to bring hosts Tara Rushton and Adam Peacock into the fold.
It seems that if Optus have a desire to further grow their football offering to the Australian market the A-League rights may be a tempting proposition.
Recently, a new media company has been making moves to launch in the Australian market. DAZN (pronounced “Da-Zone”) currently operates in Europe, South America and North America. Adverts for job openings in Sydney can be seen on their website.
Vince Rugari of the Sydney Morning Herald recently wrote that “multiple sources” have suggested the company is currently in the preliminary stages of securing the domestic A-League rights.
He also claims Fox would not stand in the way of a rival broadcaster buying out their current A-League deal for “the right price”. Now, I’m not sure if that’s rock-solid information. But it’s interesting to ponder whether or not Fox will actually see out the remainder of the current deal.
One thing is for sure – the revenue the clubs receive from the broadcast deal is of paramount importance. Let’s hope a bit of competition increases its value.