Del Piero Game Changer For A-League Broadcast Deal With Fox Sports, SBS
Australian football's "long-awaited broadcast deal is expected to be announced" Monday, and Football Federation Australia can thank Sydney FC's newest player Alessandro Del Piero "for helping it squeeze every last possible dollar out of Fox Sports and SBS" for a A$39M ($40.4M)-a-year deal, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. It is understood that the federal government "finally signed off on the deal on Friday night, though much of the detail of the A$156M windfall has been out in the public domain for months." It is believed Fox Sports "will pay close to A$32M a year for the rights to televise all five A-League matches every week, as well as Australia's World Cup qualifiers, while SBS will contribute A$7M." For the first time in A-League history, one game will be shown live on free-to-air TV through SBS, while World Cup qualifiers will be shown on the network on a one-hour delay (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19). In Sydney, Nick Tabakoff reported sources "close to the contract" said that the deal would be for four or five years. Sports analysts believe that the jump in the value of sports rights in Australia in recent months "underlines the crucial nature of live sport to TV in Australia." Repucom Australia Managing Dir Lynne Anderson said sport was "at the core of Australia's DNA as a nation." Anderson: "In an era of divergent choice and audience fragmentation, the power of live sport is only enhanced. Live sport is appointment viewing" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19).
CHOICE WORDS FROM ITALY: In Sydney, Gatt added that "the deal to beam Sydney's games live into Italy on pay-TV" in the wake of the signing of Del Piero was being "touted as an exciting breakthrough for the A-League, but it has also left the competition open to huge criticism." While Del Piero was being "hailed for his brace of goals, the Italians took a swipe at the club, the players and the quality of football" following Friday's 4-2 loss to the Brisbane Roar, making it Sydney's third consecutive defeat. Broadcaster Eurosport described Del Piero, "who single-handedly kept his team in the game, as a lighthouse and the only one that has any clear idea of the game." Tuttosport's extended online headline last week read: "Sydney coach resigns. 'I cannot stand the pressure,'" alluding to the fact that Del Piero carries his teammates and condemning the A-League (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19).
POKE THE GIANT: Also in Sydney, Bossi & Dillon noted the broadcast deal has been negotiated over a long time and was the FFA former CEO Ben Buckley's "final commitment to the game before stepping down." FFA CEO David Gallop is "excited by the A-League's potential to become a major player." Gallop said, "I think the sleeping giant metaphor, we've moved beyond that now. The giant is well and truly awake, out of bed, and out the front door, from what we've seen in terms of success of the A-League this season and also the continued growth of grassroots football" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/19).