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SBD Global/February 28, 2014/Media

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou Says League Hopes To Work With ESPN In The Future

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AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou says league is looking to increase its int'l TV coverage.
Australian Football League CEO Andrew Demetriou said that the league wants to increase its int’l TV coverage. Game broadcasts of Australian Rules football, which is the country’s most-popular sport, are already available in almost every corner of the world. The league's list of int'l broadcast partners includes BT Sport in the U.K, Fox in the U.S., and pan-European channel Eurosport 2, among others. However, the AFL believes that there is room for growth in this area. "I think we can grow internationally. Not from a perspective of players or playing the game, but certainly in the form of international broadcast rights," said Demetriou. The AFL is not only available on traditional broadcast TV but also on computers, tablets and mobile devices through its "Watch AFL Global Pass." The pass allows fans of the sport to watch every AFL game live on their devices for $139 annually. In part due to the game’s global accessibility, Demetriou told SBD Global that its viewership continues to grow. "All sports, but particular the ones that are popular, continue to grow. The demands for them continue to grow," he said. "We are in a fortunate position that our sport does continue to grow on every metric that we measure ourselves by." Demetriou, who has been the league’s CEO since ‘03, attended this year’s Super Bowl as a guest of ESPN and seems to be particularly fond of the Bristol-based network. "We are hoping we can do something with ESPN in the future," he said. The AFL’s current U.S. broadcast deal with Fox Soccer Plus expires after the ’14 season.

ON THE HOME FRONT:
In Australia, the AFL’s broadcast rights are locked up through ’16. Channel 7 and pay-TV operator Foxtel paid A$1.25B for the league’s TV rights in '11. While the next round of negotiations is still a couple years away, media research analyst Roger Colman predicted that the next AFL broadcast rights contract will be worth up to A$1.6B ($1.4B). Demetriou dismissed the number but said that he was pleased to read how high it could go. "I think everyone realizes on a global scale that broadcast rights and content is very valuable," he said. Because of the game's continuing growth and the National Rugby League's most recent broadcast deal, the AFL is expecting to increase its domestic rights deal but what the increase will be remains to be seen. However, what Demetriou knows is that the league will do its homework before heading into the negotiations. "We will be well prepared, certainly well researched and well briefed on all things broadcasting, whether it is advertising rights or market share, as we have done in the past to get the ultimate result," he said.
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