The AFL has unveiled a record $2.508 billion broadcast deal with Seven, News Corp and Telstra starting in 2017.
The announcement was made at a media conference in Melbourne with AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Telstra Group managing director media and marketing Joe Pollard, Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes and media mogul Rupert Murdoch - representing Foxtel, owner of Fox Sports - among others, in attendance.
Fitzpatrick, calling it a "historic" agreement, confirmed that the broadcasters would be retaining the rights in a deal which will run over six years until 2022, with Telstra holding the digital rights for mobile, afl.com.au, club digital network and IPTV.
McLachlan said: "The AFL's challenge is to stay Australia's game. This agreement for the next six years is our chance to invest for the future."
Murdoch said in a statement: “Our company has a long and highly valued relationship with the AFL, and has followed and reported on the game since its inception in 1858. Aussie Rules continues to be a centrepiece in all our newspapers, Fox Footy, Fox Sport Australia and Foxtel. This deal secures and builds that relationship well into the future.”
Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein said the agreement is great news for Foxtel subscribers.
"This deal builds on the strong set of rights Fox Footy has today and ensures that the channel will be the only place where you can see every game of every round, including the final series - excluding the Grand Final - live for many years to come," Freudenstein said.
"Under this deal, for the first time, Fox Footy will be able to be broadcast on all devices, which means that if you subscribe to Foxtel Play or use Foxtel Go, you’ll now be able to watch all games on PCs and Macs as well as tablets, phones and games consoles."
It follows widespread speculation that the battle to sign the rights were heating up among free to air networks, with The Australian reporting that News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson was involved in negotiations with the AFL in Melbourne and that Rupert Murdoch was preparing to fly south from Sydney to attend.
The AFL's existing deal was inked in 2012 for $1.25bn and runs until 2016.
Last week, Nine secured the NRL free to air and streaming rights for the 2017 to 2022 seasons in a deal worth $185 million per year.
The agreement will see Nine broadcast four live games a week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday afternoons. In addition, Nine will be able to broadcast Finals series, State-of-Origin and other special event matches.
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