Optus Goes Full-Bore Soccer As It Chases A-League & Socceroos’ Rights

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 01:  Adelaide United celebrate after they defeated the Wanderers during the 2015/16 A-League Grand Final match between Adelaide United and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Adelaide Oval on May 1, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Telco Optus is clearly placing its faith in the value of football with reports today that it wants to add A-league and Socceroo internationals to the English Premier League rights it recently required.

Despite its popularity, A-League games presently air only on SBS 2.

Optus shelled out a whopping $198 million for the rights to the EPL six months ago and has subsequently come under fire from fans who argue the $15 a month subscription rate is too high and you can only watch games on the Optus channel on Fetch TV.

However, reports in Fairfax Media this morning have stated that the Singapore-owned telco is “running the ruler” over both A-League matches and internationals featuring the Socceroos.

Optus’ CEO Allan Lew was quoted as saying: “We’re looking at it seriously. If it makes sense and it adds value to what we are providing football fans, at a commercial deal that we feel is fair, then we will see how we can bring it across. But, it’s early days and let’s see what happens.

“Having got EPL we will build a content suite around people who are football fans. We will be building something around that to engage football fans when there is no live game, or nothing interesting to watch in terms of football.”

If any deal were to go ahead, it’s believed fans would have to sign-up to Optus TV on Fetch. It has not been reported whether the $15 a month subscription fee would be increased.

Arguably, the whole EPL rights affair has been poorly handled. When Optus won the rights fans were less than impressed that they’d paid hefty subscription fees to (then rights holder) Foxtel. It was also argued that Optus simply didn’t have the proper distribution rights and fans could only watch games on Fetch and not, say, at a hotel or pub.

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Under pressure, Optus finally did a deal in mid-March with SBS to sub licence the exclusive free-to-air rights of one match per round for the next three seasons.

Foxtel was also forced to placate angry fans by signing deals directly with some of the major EPL clubs themselves that allowed the under-fire broadcaster to show top-flight games albeit on a delayed telecast 24 hours later (as the Optus deal gave it first airing rights in Australia).

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