A brilliant deal for the AFL that cements its standing as the no.1 sport in the country. The $2.5 billion dollar deal will underpin the game's operations for six years from 2017 through to 2022.
Seven retains the free-to-air TV rights, Fox Footy's blanket coverage continues and the digital rights remain with Telstra.
After the NRL went early in securing its new deal, the AFL rolled up its sleeves and nutted out its own deal in less than a fortnight.
Telstra retains the rights and will remain the AFL's partner, as well as delivering every game live, every week, to fans on the move across the country through the Live AFL App.
It will hold the rights for all hand-held devices, the club digital network, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and to the AFL website, AFL.com.au.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR VIEWERS
Over the course of the season there will be 11 fewer home and away games on free-to-air TV, with Thursday night football set to be significantly enhanced as a showpiece fixture.
The other major change is one of the Saturday afternoon fixtures is moved to 3.20pm, designed for Foxtel to on-sell to a free to air network as a lead in to the 6pm news.
WILL FOOTY BE BROADCAST IN HD?
Yes. Foxtel has made high definition coverage available to subscribers for a number of seasons and now the Seven Network has joined the party.
Network chairman Kerry Stokes said HD would be introduced "certainly" from the start of 2017, with a slight possibility it may start next season.
GRAND FINAL DAY
The biggest game of the season will continue to feature live on the Seven Network in every state and territory.
While the AFL will continue to have full control over the production of the fixture and the scheduling of the big decider, Stokes said Seven had "made suggestions" without demanding conditions about its timing.
"We did make the point it seems to us in our experience that twilight games happen to get more ratings than day games do, and if one wants to be the most watched Grand Final in Australia, it would seem sensible it might be a twilight," Stokes said.
Watch this space.
THE DRAFT, THE BROWNLOW
The Brownlow remains with Seven, while the National Draft will continue to belong to Foxtel and screened on Fox Footy.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR CLUBS AND PLAYERS
A delicate collective bargaining agreement negotiation is next on the AFL agenda, with the players resolute in their desire to earn a fixed percentage of the League's revenue.
The clubs will also anticipate a great annual disbursement, but the League itself has already flagged that community and grassroots football will continue to be well-funded.
FOOTY IN NSW/QLD/SA/WA
While every game will remain available live on Foxtel and through Telstra, additional focus will remain on fans based outside of Victoria.
Games involving the Sydney Swans, Greater Western Sydney, the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast will continue to be shown live on free to air television.
In Western Australia and South Australia, games that feature West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will also be shown live on free to air, but three matches for each team in the home-and-away season will be broadcast on delay.
WHO WILL BUY FOXTEL'S EXTRA GAME?
Channel Ten is desperate to acquire whatever big-time sport it can. Given the affiliation it will likely have with Foxtel (ACCC approval pending) they would be a good chance to get back into the AFL broadcasting scene for the first time since 2011.
WHAT THEY SAID
"The AFL’s challenge is to stay Australia’s game, and this new agreement for the next 6 years gives our game a chance to invest in the future. This is about investment in supporters, our clubs, our players and the community. The job of my team is to provide a recommendation to the Commission about what's the right balance in all of those four, and I don't think you prioritise one over the other, it's getting the balance right and making the right investment decisions, and that's going to be a key priority over the next 12 to 18 months." – Gillon McLachlan, AFL CEO.
"The last ten years have been about expansion and investment in the AFL competition. Over that period, we added two new teams and invested in stadiums and infrastructure at the elite and community level around Australia. Senior AFL football is now played in every state and territory. Our challenge over the nextdecade is to make the right investments to grow our reach into every state, region, town and community." – Mike Fitzpatrick, AFL Commission Chairman.
"At the end of the day, this whole agreement is about one basic thing – it's about the football. Sometimes we lose sight of that. But we'd like to play football every day of the week, Good Friday included. You could raise some extra money for the Good Friday Appeal and that would be appreciated." – Kerry Stokes, executive chairman of Seven Group Holdings and executive chairman of Seven Network.
"It's a very significant investment for us. We've always believed this is the premium code in Australia, it's the national game. We're also committing to and all our platforms support AFL everywhere, in every state, so we're very happy to be doing this, we believe in the strength of the game and we're doing everything we can to make it stronger." – Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corporation and 21st Century Fox.
"We believe Aussie Rules is a great game, and our intention is to make it even greater. It's an influential game and we intend to make it even more influential by complementing a wonderful sport with the powerful platforms we have in this country, and that includes the power of print as well as the depth of digital. We will ensure more people see more games of football and its reach is extended." – Robert Thompson, CEO of News Corporation.
"We've had a wonderful partnership and we've been able to bring live footy to every mobile device in Australia, to every fan in Australia that's on the move. If you watch it on a Telstra Network, it will be even better again but we're very much looking forward to continuing to provide you with the technology and the digital innovation that is going to transform the experience of fans watching AFL footy in the future." – Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra.