THE AFL has announced it has reached a new agreement with broadcast partners Foxtel and Telstra which will see both extend their coverage rights by two years across the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
The deal, signed and completed today, will result in a massive boost for sports fans and event-goers at Marvel Stadium with Telstra and the AFL coming together in a partnership that will ambitiously see the venue become one of the world's most technologically connected and innovative sports and entertainment venues, along with a testing bed for Telstra 5G innovation.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the new extended broadcast deal, along with the Seven Network's extension for the 2023-2024 seasons announced earlier this year, would deliver $946 million to the AFL industry over the two years.
He said the extended partnership with Foxtel and Telstra was a huge vote of confidence in the ongoing strength of the game and its future.
"After a challenging year, this is a great way to finish off 2020 and is a massive vote of confidence in the AFL, our players and our code at all levels. It provides greater financial certainty in the years ahead, ensures our fans continue to have the ability to watch men's and women's footy wherever they are." Mr McLachlan said.
"We have made a commitment to make Marvel Stadium one of the best sports and entertainment destinations in the world and our partnership with Telstra only enhances our ability to deliver this by providing fans a digitally-connected and technologically innovative fan-friendly experience.
"This extension with Foxtel and Telstra, along with the extension we signed with the Seven Network earlier this year, ensures that we are able to not only re-build our game but take it to more and more people.
"Every business, every sport, every community has felt the fallout of this global Covid-19 pandemic and our partnerships announced today help provide us with the security and confidence to continue to diligently and strategically re-build the football community.
"I want to thank Foxtel and Telstra for their support of our game and for backing us, just like the Seven Network did who extended earlier this year. I thank them all for their support and for backing us in for an extension in what has been a challenging year.
"We have the best game in the world and we continue to attract and retain the best partners in world sports.
"Fox, Telstra and Channel Seven's long-term partnerships exposes our game to the biggest audience in the country and brings footy fans the very best content -on demand -wherever and whenever they need via television, streaming and digital."
Under the extended agreement:
- Foxtel will extend its coverage of AFL to cover the 2023 and 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership seasons and the NAB AFLW seasons with all games during the home and away season shown live.
- Foxtel will continue to broadcast all Premiership Season matches live on subscription television and digital platforms (Kayo, Foxtel Go, Foxtel Now) in 2023-24, as well as having replay and highlight rights.
- Telstra continues its partnership through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, with highlight, replay and on demand rights while increasing their investment in sponsorship assets.
- Telstra will become Marvel Stadium's official technology and innovation partner over the next four years, ensuring the revamped Marvel Stadium offers supporters the best digital experience of any stadium or entertainment venue in the country and ensuring supporters have the technology to connect them to the game they love.
- Telstra technology and connectivity will be deployed at Marvel over the next few years including fixed and 4G/5G networks upgrades, Artificial Intelligence, and mixed reality and edge computing. From booking a seat to parking to engaging with the game, attendees will soon be able to experience a new stadium experience before, during, and after they attend the game.
- Telstra will also expand its visual sponsorship elements such as on-field Telstra 5G signage, and continue the development of the AFL's digital assets such as AFL.com.au, club websites and the AFL Official LIVE App. The updated sponsorship also deepens Telstra's connections to AFL Clubs and extends the agreement with the AFL Players Association that engages all listed players as ambassadors for use in social marketing campaigns and other initiatives.
Mr McLachlan said the extension was a good outcome for football and also for football supporters – particularly fans attending Marvel Stadium which would hit new heights for a digital sporting experience attending AFL and AFLW games. Fans of all sports and entertainment events at the stadium would benefit.
He thanked Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany and Telstra CEO Andy Penn for their ongoing support of the game and also thanked AFL supporters who had stayed with the game during 2020, with gross TV audiences of 77 million watching the 2020 home and away season – a 15 per cent increase on 2019 but it included a staggering 32 per cent increase in Brisbane audience and 20 per cent across Queensland.
"This is a great result for our game. Both Foxtel and Telstra have been long-term partners of the AFL along with the Seven Network and we are fortunate that all our broadcast partners love our game as much as our supporters and are constantly working to improve the viewer experience and to expand our game to new audiences.
"They have stood with us in challenging times and continue to stand with us and we are excited by the experience we can provide our supporters on TV, on devices and in stadium – we will continue to innovate and lead.
Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany
"This extension to our long-term relationship with the AFL confirms the Foxtel Group as the go-to destination for footy fans with every game of every round live and ad-free during play.
"After a roller-coaster ride through 2020, this is a great end to the year. More fans watched footy on Foxtel and Kayo in 2020 than ever before, and the depth and breadth of our sports offering saw us grow to have more sports subscribers than at any time in our 25-year history. We are already planning an exciting start to the 2021 footy season, which is less than three months away.
"On behalf of the Foxtel Group, I want to acknowledge Gillon McLachlan and the AFL team for the goodwill that's been a hallmark of our relationship. We are incredibly pleased by the continued commitment to footy by our long-term strategic partner Telstra, under the leadership of Andy Penn. It's also exciting to hear about the innovation that Telstra and the AFL will bring to the game and fans as part of today's announcement."
Telstra CEO Andy Penn
"Since 2002, we have been proud of our partnership with the AFL which has always been about using technology to help Aussies watch and enjoy the game at home or on the go," said Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra. "We have been deeply committed to keeping up our support for the AFL and it's pleasing to see Foxtel, our long-standing strategic partner, support the AFL and extend their rights deal for another two years. We will continue to work with the AFL, Foxtel and our other partners on how we continue to bring exclusive streaming rights and experiences to Telstra customers, and we have some exciting plans in this regard that we will announce in the new year."
"Telstra is delighted to be able to deepen our support of the AFL through extending our sponsorships, leveraging our industry leadership in 5G and other exciting technologies such as mixed reality, as well as becoming Marvel Stadium's official technology and innovation partner to enhance the experience for fans. We're really excited about the potential future stadium experiences that can be delivered for fans through Telstra 5G and other technologies."
Mr McLachlan also thanked the 18 AFL clubs and all players and staff members who had worked hard to ensure the football season continued for supporters.
"We have the most loyal and passionate supporters who continued to maintain memberships and watched their teams play and stayed engaged throughout the year which was an enormous boost to our clubs and our players. I want to thank them and also the players and staff who ensured that the season went ahead," he said.
"We are excited about next year; we are excited by the years ahead and we are excited to work with our partners to ensure our supporters continue to have the best coverage of the game wherever they are and however they choose to watch."