A-League’s free-to-air lifeline
A-League games will be shown on prime time free-to-air TV under a new deal being negotiated with the ABC by club owners and Football Federation Australia ahead of the new season.
Saturday games at 5.15pm would be broadcast on both ABC1 and Fox Sports if the deal is agreed by all parties, giving the competition access to its biggest potential free-to-air audience.
Though some details of the deal still have to be ironed out, it is understood the various stakeholders involved are positive about the deal, with hopes it will be signed off well before the new season kicks off on October 11.
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The proposed deal is the first significant milestone for the A-League club owners after they took control of the competition on August 1, even though the legal separation of the competition out of FFA is still not complete.
Talks with the ABC began after a mooted deal with the Ten Network - which would have involved two games being shown exclusively on Ten's main channel - fell victim to the merger of Ten's parent, CBS, with Viacom in the US.
Detailed negotiations in recent days have centred on ABC taking Fox Sports's production of the game, with hopes it will deliver an audience well into six figures after several years of dramatic decline in TV ratings for A-League games.
W-League games broadcast on ABC1 on Sundays have regularly drawn audiences of around 65,000.
Ten only broadcast A-League games on its subsidiary channels, with little incentive to promote the coverage.