In a shock move announced this morning, Optus has shelled out $50 million to broadcast the English Premier League (EPL) in Australia.
The deal covers live broadcast coverage and digital rights for broadband and mobile and is another blow for current rights holder Foxtel whose live sport coverage is the number one thing in its armoury to attract paid subscribers.
Optus is one brand seriously amping up its live sports coverage. In late October it signed a sponsorship deal to live stream Cricket Australia games. It is believed to have also thrown its hat into the ring to live stream NRL games too, further clouding the already frosty relationship between Channel Nine, the NRL and Foxtel and News Corp
Announcing the EPL deal this morning Optus’s CEO Allen Lew said in a statement that deal represented “another significant step in our strategy to become a mobile-led multimedia company.
“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.”
In a wide ranging interview with Fairfax Media in late October, Lew said the company was looking at securing the rights for sports both here in Australia and overseas.
“We have done quite an extensive study of the different engagement levels of the sports codes so we know what excites Australians [and] we’ll be working through that priority list,” Lew told the newspaper.
“Whatever we do in content must lead to greater mobile connections and … we have to look at the opportunities to look beyond live broadcasts, which everybody has already done for the last 50 or 60 years in television.
“And the third thing is how it plays into our innovation halo, which is our image of being the most innovative service provider here in Australia.”