Sports

Amazon, Paramount interested in 2024 footy broadcast rights


Each club will be able to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 except for the two highest-paid players on each list, which sits outside the Additional Services Agreement cap.

There is wide agreement within the league that AFLW players have been underpaid, but even so, male players have made it clear they would not volunteer to sacrifice any of their own, much higher pay to help fund the growth of the women’s game.

Under the current deal, the male players receive 28 per cent of the league’s revenue, and they have told the AFL the increase to female players’ salaries should be found from the other 72 per cent.

That flag in the ground has caused considerable internal friction. Several senior women’s players, when contacted by The Age this week, said they thought they had been ignored by their own players’ union for too long. The decision to begin pay negotiations in the AFLW grand final week was seen as a slap in the face.

“Imagine starting the men’s pay deal talks in grand final week in September,” one player said.

Meaningful contract conversations with the men are yet to take place, and it remains unclear whether they are seeking a pay increase from 2019, prior to COVID-19 hitting.

Outgoing league executive Gillon McLachlan.

Outgoing league executive Gillon McLachlan.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Given so much of the AFL’s revenue comes from the broadcast rights, the potential introduction of a disruptor like Amazon, Paramount, Ten or even Nine (which owns this masthead) is of great value to the league.

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, with a market capital of $US1.55 trillion, has purchased the rights to Thursday-night football in the NFL to be streamed on Amazon Prime. Industry sources have told The Age that if a company like Amazon was to involve itself in broadcasting football in Australia, it would follow a similar path to its purchase of one game a week in the NFL.

Australian streaming service Stan (owned by Nine) announced a broadcast deal in 2020 for rugby, which is worth $100 million over three years.

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If the AFL could negotiate more five-day breaks with its players in the next contract negotiations, Thursday night football could become a permanent fixture beyond 2024, meaning this game could be sold in isolation.

Paramount is now owned by CBS Studios, who also took over the Ten Network in Australia. Paramount Plus in Australia entered the market for streaming live sport when it purchased the rights to soccer’s A-League last year.

Paramount’s affiliation with local TV network Ten would come as an added bonus to the AFL, who would have the flexibility to negotiate with a free-to-air channel.

In 2017, an average AFL game would see Seven out-rate Fox by more than half-a-million people. In 2022, that difference has nearly halved.

As revealed by The Age in 2019, the AFL sent a team to the US on a covert, fact-finding mission to visit the head offices of Amazon, Google and Facebook. In what will be seen as a major part of his legacy, McLachlan has been ahead of the curve in the digital space when it comes to broadcasting as compared to many other Australian sports.

The AFL would not comment on negotiations. Amazon and Paramount have been approached for comment.

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