The AFL is on the verge of signing a record television deal, with current broadcast partners Seven West Media and Foxtel claiming to be in the “box seat” to top the previous record of $2.5 billion ahead of the dramatic final round of the season.
Senior sources close to the high-level negotiations say Seven West Media and Foxtel (which owns streaming service Kayo) believe they are close to a deal which is being reviewed by the lawyers and could be announced as early as Monday.
Speculation remains whether Network Ten and streaming partner Paramount Plus and Nine Entertainment and streaming service Stan have topped the $500 million a year benchmark, which the AFL hoped would push the price closer to $600 million a year.
But the AFL denied any deal had been done, with sources suggesting the negotiations were still at the “high drama phase”, with Seven and Foxtel seeking to finalise between themselves how many games remain behind the paywall with a concession for Seven to stream key AFL matches.
Another source said that there was still a “small chance” that Ten and Paramount could counter with a last-minute higher bid with an AFL subcommittee led by AFL chairman Richard Goyder, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Commissioners Paul Bassat and Robin Bishop discussing a final decision on the deal.
“Could a last-minute bid come in that’ll blow the AFL away? Yes, it could,” another source said, sworn to secrecy about the high stakes negotiations where each party is promoting their own interests.
Foxtel and Seven previously clinched a record $2.5 billion deal with the AFL for six years from 2017. A two-year extension was agreed in late 2020 to the end of the 2024 season for the publicly disclosed figure of $946 million – putting the current rights at a value of $473 million a year, a figure considered to a discount due to the cancellation of games during the pandemic and creating a benchmark of around $500 million a year.
Sources said the current bid was above the existing deal but only a “modest increase” with a five-year offer above $510 million a year putting a deal above $2.55 billion and allowing the AFL to legitimately claim a record agreement. Financial Review