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Northern exposure key as AFL signs off on radio rights

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 01: AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan addresses the room during Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Dinner at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on September 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

INCREASED penetration into regional and developing markets is a highlight of the AFL's new six-year radio rights agreement, which was announced on Wednesday.

The AFL has borrowed from the same recipe book as with last year's TV rights deal by essentially sticking with the same broadcasters, but for significantly more money.

Triple M, Macquarie Media, SEN 1116, K Rock, FIVEaa and Crocmedia have retained the commercial rights in the major AFL markets, while negotiations still taking place will ensure that the ABC and the National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) will also continue as major AFL broadcasters.

The AFL has not released the financial details of the deal but it is believed to be around $10 million per year over the life of the agreement. There were competitive elements to the negotiations with the Australian Radio Network (Gold 104.3FM in Melbourne) a serious bidder early on.

The new agreement promises increased coverage of the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney into New South Wales and the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast into Queensland. Leading commercial stations such as 2UE in Sydney and Magic 882 in Brisbane will now broadcast AFL matches for the first time.

AFL.com.au and the AFL Live app will continue to stream every game from all broadcasters while rights holders will now be able to stream match broadcasts from their own websites.

"The fans of our 18 clubs will benefit the most over the next six years, being able to listen to their team play wherever they may be listening across Australia," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"We are very pleased that we've been able to achieve a strong outcome for the ongoing financial security of the game and our clubs with the commercial value of our rights with AM and FM licences," he said.

Crocmedia, the media production and syndication company owned by former journalist Craig Hutchison, has emerged as the winner from the new deal and now owns exclusive rights to all match broadcasts on commercial regional radio other than stations owned by Southern Cross Austereo.

The company will also develop 'AFL Nation', a national radio call of the Saturday and Sunday twilight games to be broadcast across all metropolitan radio markets. And it will be developing new season-long audio content for AFL.com.au along the lines of the wildly popular Trade Radio, which runs every October.

"We are delighted to play a bigger role in shaping the way the game is heard and promoted nationally," Hutchison said.

While Melbourne's all-sport radio station SEN will continue to broadcast six games a weekend, two of them will now be the syndicated Crocmedia broadcasts.

AFL.com.au understands SEN executives met with the AFL for eight hours on Tuesday in an unsuccessful bid to play a bigger role in the new deal.

Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert, a board member of the station and a long-time radio executive before joining the Magpies, spearheaded SEN's AFL bid.

As part of the deal, the AFL finals series will be broadcast nationally, while extensive radio coverage of the Grand Final of the fledgling national women's league has also been enshrined in the new agreement. 

Capital city radio broadcasters

Melbourne – 3AW, SEN, Triple M
Adelaide – FIVEaa, Triple M
Perth – 6PR, Mix 94.5
Sydney – 2UE, Triple M, 2SM
Brisbane – Magic882, Triple M

Regional radio broadcasters

National – Crocmedia, Triple M
Geelong – K Rock
Gold Coast – 92.5GoldFM
Melbourne: 3AW, SEN, Triple M
Adelaide: FIVEaa, Triple M
Perth: 6PR, Triple M
Sydney: 2UE, Triple M, 2SM
Brisbane: Magic882, Triple M