Fox Sports left “disappointed” after “strong and realistic” bid

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 2 November 2015

Following news that Optus won the bid for the exclusive Australian rights to the Barclays Premier League, Fox Sports has aired its disappointment at the news, as rumours fly over who the telco could on-sell the broadcast rights to.

Optus won the bid for the exclusive Australian rights to the world’s most popular football league for three seasons, commencing in August 2016. This includes live broadcast coverage and digital rights for broadband and mobile for all 380 Premier League games, every season.

A Fox Sports spokesperson said: “In response to today’s announcement that Optus has acquired the Australian rights for the English Premier League from 2016, Fox Sports is disappointed that we were not successful in our bid to retain the rights.

“As the foundation broadcast partner of the league in Australia, we made a strong and realistic bid for the rights to the 2016-2019 period.”

Carat CEO Simon Ryan said it’s an absolute clear content play that could see the sport streamed across a number of platforms and distribution channels.

“This is a very significant major sporting rights pillar in the Fox Sports stable and it will be interesting to see if Optus on sell it to Fox Sports as without it you could see a lot more streaming based competition. 

“Content acquisitions like this could also open up the opportunity for the likes of YouTube to go for other big sports and content distribution opportunities.”  

Questions now centre on what Optus will do with the broadcast rights and who it could on-sell them to.

With Channel Seven sitting pretty with its sports kit – the Melbourne Cup, Olympics and AFL, and Channel Nine still basking in its NRL and Cricket rights glory – could it be a gem for Ten? Ten has the lucrative Big Bash, and V8, but couldn’t it do with another draw-card?

Least we forget SBS – which MEC national head of investment, Claire Butterworth, said is the “natural home of football”. However, whether or not it has the cash is another question.

“It's a really forward-thinking move from Optus,” Butterworth said.

“We know that sport is the king of content, so Optus securing the rights for such engaging content is a big move – it puts them in the driving seat.”

Speaking to AdNews, SBS spokesperson Marina Saggers, remained coy on the idea of snatching the rights, adding however that SBS has been instrumental in building the profile of football in Australia over 35 years.

"Football aligns with SBS’s Charter, by helping to unite Australia’s diverse multicultural communities," Saggers said.

"SBS continues to invest its modest resources into content which delivers on the SBS Charter and considers opportunities where appropriate and which fit with our objectives."

Butterworth said she'd be surprised if they didn't on-sell the broadcast rights as it will likely need to recoup some of the costs it forked out to secure the deal.

“There will no doubt be a bidding war and it will come down to who has the deeper pockets,” she added.

Butterworth, who was promoted to her role in June this year, added that it didn’t matter that Optus wasn't a broadcaster and that for it to secure the rights in the first place makes for an interesting industry shake-up move.

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