The AFL Deal: Good For Choice, Bad For Your Wallet

Yesterday, Telstra coughed up $155 million for the right to broadcast AFL matches to mobile phones and Internet-enabled TVs. That means more flexible options for viewers, but the flexibility won't come for free.

There's a lot of detail still to be revealed about the new broadcast deal, which kicks in from the 2012 season. Channel Seven and Foxtel have the TV rights; Seven will offer four games a week (though it may choose to sell one match a week to Channel Ten), while Foxtel will show all nine games live as they happen. Games will generally be shown live or near-live on free-to-air television, though the exact role of secondary digital channels in achieving this hasn't been finalised.

One thing that's pretty clear is that you'll have to cough up for pay TV if you want to be certain of seeing matches in HD. While some matches will potentially end up on 7Mate (or One), that's not going to guarantee that you'll see your favourite team playing.

But what if you want to abandon TV broadcasts altogether? This is where the Telstra deal gets potentially interesting. It will broadcast all games live to customers using its Next G mobile network on smartphones or tablets, and make replays available immediately. Telstra hasn't yet announced pricing for this. It currently charges $49.95 a year to be able to watch match replays 12 hours after the game, and it seems safe to assume live matches will cost more. On the other hand, even doubling the price would make it a much cheaper option than paying up for Foxtel.

Telstra will also offer live broadcasts to users of its T-Box IP TV box. Subscribers to the Foxtel on T-Box service will get access to all matches as well as replays and the AFL Game Analyser, while one match a week will be freely available to all T-Box users. Telstra says it is open to negotiating deals with other IP service providers to offer those options as well.

Would you be tempted to pay Telstra rather than Foxtel if you could save money? Or are you happy just to stick with what gets offered on free-to-air? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

    Happy to stick with free to air.
    Next rights it will all be pay, so I don't want to encourage teh bastards!!

      Current law requires 4 FTA games per week.

    AFL? Meh.

    Talk Super Rugby which is only pay-tv and I'm interested ;)

    If the rumoured AFL on Foxtel360 is true, I might consider that as a pay per view style solution, but otherwise I think the deal sounds OK for Free-to-air.

    The problem with the T-Box is it's only quota free if you're with Telstra, and Telsra Internet is horribly bad and over-priced, and no matter what will never ever go with Telstra for fixed line Internet.

    As a Brisbane Lions supporting Queenslander, this is the best TV rights deal we've had.

    Four live free to air games per round, including Friday nights and all Lions and GC games will be broadcast here on free to air? Seems pretty good compared to the scraps we get thrown at the moment.

    My household used to subscribe to Foxtel solely to get more AFL coverage, but it wasn't very good value if you only use Foxtel for that purpose. So we cancelled it and now I can't wait for next year.

    I am rapt about the new deal - already have Foxtel and now will have 9 games per week live with no ads during quarters. Channel 7's arrogant attitude in providing delayed telecasts for their Fri and Sun afternoon games, stacked full of ads, has lost any desire I might have had to watch on FTA.

    Rugby league fans have had to live with this for years... If only they'd make foxtel more reasonably priced.

    And the big winner is.......Rupert Murdoch! Without having to go down the Super League track he did with League (and almost destroyed the game), he now pretty much controls the bulk of tv viewing for all the major football codes in Australia. And the key was buying a stake in 10 through his son - OneHD is now crippled to what it used to be. Guaranteed he'll do a similar deal with 9 for the NRL rights next year. Wonder how long before Australia realises they got pineappled.....

    I do not and will never have Foxtel!
    I do not and will never use Telstra!
    So football will soon be dead to me.

    ch7 games Foxtel will only up-res not strictly HD.

    As a die hard West Coast Eagles fan, living in rural QLD, I rarely get a chance to watch AFL at all, let alone live AFL. I used to have Austar, but had to tighten the belt.
    I welcome any opportunity, even if it is through telstra. I definitely will never use telstra/bigpond as my ISP, but will consider purchasing the games I want to watch from them. I would gladly pay $3 or $4 per game, if it were live and decent enough definition.
    I also hope the resolution and definition will be good enough to watch on the 50". The replays bigpond used to offer were very pixelated even on a 19" monitor.

    When they show replays of channel 7 games on Foxtel HD it looks pretty HD to me. I think they do use HD cameras to record, just don't use their HD channel to broadcast

    As a Brisbane Lions supporter in Melbourne, who gets maybe 3 or 4 games shown live on free-to-air per year this almost sounds like good news. I've been wishing AFL would broadcast live over internet for a small per-game fee for ever. Maybe Telstra will do this? I don't want Telstra internet (made that mistake once), and I don't want Foxtel just for the one game of footy per week I'd like to watch.

    Here's to hoping. Of course whenever Telstra are involved, we're all likely to end up disappointed.

    Paying telstra instead of foxtel just means you're paying even more to telstra. You'd be paying them anyway, seeing as foxtel is fox + telstra.

    Have yet to see any game telecast in 1080i (HD) this season on any FTA channel or Foxtel.

    I thought we were going to get more HD as the years progressed not less..

    As a Sydney-based Lions fan, I can't wait for this deal to come along. Currently we don't get the night games live unless Sydney are playing, and even the day games can be a bit hit-and-miss.

    I believe the role of the multi-channels has been announced:
    http://www.afl.com.au/tvradio/20122016broadcastingrights/tabid/17734/default.aspx?cid=aflpromo_strip_tvrights

    This says to me that we will get 4 games live every week on the multi-channels. I'm happy with that arrangement.

    Do match replays still cost to watch on the AFL website? I know they are now free on the NRL site, and both sites are run by Bigpond...

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