The AFL has inked the biggest broadcast deal in the history of Australian sport, signing a whopping $2.508 billion broadcast deal on Tuesday.
AFL and broadcast executives have agreed on a six-year deal which locks in the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra as the code’s broadcasters until 2022.
The new deal confirms the current 22-game home-and-away season and finals format across the life of the agreement.
AFL supremos Gillon McLachlan and Mike Fitzpatrick were joined by broadcast executives for the announcement, including News Corp Australia executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and Seven chairman Kerry Stokes.
McLachlan said the agreement would allow the code to “stay Australia’s game”.
“This agreement will allow us to focus resources to the foundations of our game – to ensure they stay strong, and grow into new areas, into new communities, to create new generations of supporters, members, players and volunteers,” he said.
“We are delivering maximum reach and maximum exposure and we, the AFL, remain in charge and in control of our fixture.
“For clubs and players, we are delivering financial security to allow future growth and certainty.”
While the new deal brings unparalleled prosperity to the sport, the number of matches on free-to-air television could go backwards from four a week to an average of 3.5 without an optional deal being struck.
Foxtel has the optional rights to on-sell a weekly Saturday afternoon match to another network should it wish to.
While the AFL retained the right to decide the time of the AFL grand final, Stokes used the occasion to mention that twilight and night matches rated higher than afternoon fixtures.
“We’ve made some suggestions,” he said.