A NEW two-year extension to the broadcast rights agreement with Foxtel and Telstra will help the AFL and its clubs rebuild the industry's battered finances by the end of the 2024 season, CEO Gillon McLachlan says.
Signed by the AFL on Wednesday, the deal follows on from the earlier extension by the Seven Network, with the two arrangements set to bring in $946 million over the 2023-24 period.
FULL STATEMENT AFL extends broadcast rights deal with Foxtel, Telstra
Seven, Telstra and Foxtel already have an existing deal that was set to expire at the end of 2022.
Asked if the deal was an increase on what the AFL was receiving in the pre-COVID-adjusted arrangement, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said yes.
"We're very pleased. We've got great partnerships and we feel that we've got the best game in the world, partners that appreciate that and partners who are happy going forward supporting the industry because it's Australia's No.1 game," McLachlan said.
"This deal is for another couple of years' time. The events in Sydney this week has shown the uncertainty around COVID, which we believe will be around next year.
"This deal is a show of faith from our broadcast partners, it's obviously a show of strength of our product, and what it enables us to do is work with our clubs, those in trouble and the stronger ones, with a four-year funding envelope.
"I feel very confident that we will rebuild the balance sheet of those clubs and the industry by the end of this agreement.
"We'll work hand-in-glove with the clubs, even if next year continues to be uncertain, to make sure we make prudent decisions for the long-term strength of the clubs and the game.
"This deal with our long-term partners enables us to plan properly, review funding models, CBAs, soft caps and others through the first half of next year."
Foxtel will continue to show every AFL and AFLW game live, including through its digital platform Kayo, and will have replay and highlights rights.
Telstra will become Marvel Stadium's official technology and innovation partner over the next four years, upgrading the infrastructure to accommodate fixed and 4G/5G networks, incorporating artificial intelligence, and mixed reality and edge computing.
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Telstra will also expand its visual sponsorship, and continue to develop the AFL's digital assets including AFL.com.au, club websites and the AFL Official Live App. The agreement with the AFL Players' Association that enables Telstra to engage players as ambassadors has also been extended.
In other news:
- The AFL is conducting a review into last October's Grand Final, the first decider to be held at night. The review is expected to be completed in March with a decision on the time of the 2021 Grand Final to be made "probably" in April
- McLachlan on GF: "My personal preference is I'm open. Traditionally, I've supported a day Grand Final, I think I've been open about that, but it was an incredible experience at the Gabba for those of us who were fortunate enough to be there. So my decision and the Commission decision will be better informed by a proper engagement process we’re going through with industry figures and supporters."
- On Willie Rioli's case, currently before the AFL's Anti-Doping Tribunal: "I don't know what is public, I apologise that I don't know what I can comment on, other than I'm looking forward to a decision as soon as possible, and I'm optimistic that's sooner rather than later."
- McLachlan had no update on the separate situations of Tyson Stengle (stood down by Adelaide) and Richmond's Sydney Stack (currently in jail after allegedly breaching WA quarantine restrictions), saying both matters were with the AFL Integrity Department.