They’ve certainly got the cash and the platforms, so it should come as no surprise that rumours the tech giants are eyeing the rights to the AFL are picking-up a head of steam.
According to reports in today’s The Australian Media section, AFL boss Gil McLachlan has privately told the code’s top club bosses that he had been approached by (as yet unnamed) global internet and streaming giants that were keen to fork out big bucks to secure the game’s rights.
However, with the current deal in place, any new deal wouldn’t happen until the 2023 season.
Presently, Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra have the rights after the trio forked out a whopping $2.5 billion in 2015 for them from 2017 up until the end of the 2022 season.
The likes of Amazon Prime and Facebook have spent billions to secure other sports rights around the globe and it’s assumed they’d be the two most likely to make a play.
Other suitors could be ESPN or CBS, who owns Channel 10.
That’s not to say the current holders wouldn’t give-up without a fight either, with Seven, in particular, arguably having the most to lose if it were to relinquish its flagship property.
The problem facing Seven, Foxtel and Telstra is they either shell-out big bikkies now to retain the rights beyond the current deal or wait for the overseas tech giants to play their hands.
Another option would be for 10, desperate for some live sport, to enter into some sort of share deal with Seven and Foxtel.
As one AFL source told The Oz: “The networks know the streaming services are going to be a player in the next deal – so should the local TV players lock it in before the global giants come along?”