What the Optus/SBS deal means for football in Australia

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As of August this year the English Premier League can be watched live and free on SBS after the broadcast network struck a deal with rights owners Optus.

In early November last year, Optus, swooped in out of nowhere to pinch the rights away from Fox Sports, who had previously owned the rights for 18 years, and Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Optus rolled out their plans last Thursday revealing their agreement with SBS to show one live game along with various other channels of distributions for fans of the world game.

But what does this mean for Australian football? Will it improve the quality and popularity of the game here in Australia, and what does it mean for our national teams?

Will it be more accessible?

Most certainly. One free to air game is an extremely rare occurrence when it comes to European football. Not too many broadcasters can claim one free-to-air game live every week. Along with this Optus has rolled out plans to have a 24/7 channel dedicated to the English Premier League, with every match shown live, and the ability to watch it on your phone and devices.

Will Australia’s internet hold its own?

Optus chief executive Allen Lew has promised fans that he will deliver English Premier in HD over the internet. This is a big thing for many die-hard sports fanatics out there who thrive on quality picture. He has also stated that the EPL is looking into producing 4K coverage. These are big claims from the telecommunication company. Australia’s internet is notoriously shaky when compared to other first world countries like the UK and USA. Optus will almost inevitably find themselves struggling with increased traffic on already busy servers. Any slight mistake in connection speeds or downtime will have fans calling for their heads.

What’s it is going to cost?

The sneaky white shirts over at Optus have yet to release pricing details. They’ll be revealed in June but expect to pay big. A staggering $189 million are some very large overheads that will be passed on somewhere, and that isn’t great news for the consumer.

What does it mean for Aussie football and the Socceroos?

The Hyundai A-League will still be on Foxtel, which will frustrate some fans as they will now have to have a subscription to both parties if they want full access.  The Socceroos however will come across to Optus and SBS. All 2018 FIFA World Cup games will be shown live and exclusive on Optus TV. SBS will retain the same previous rights it had before with one free live game each day in which they will have first pick, including the opening match along with all Socceroos games. Knockout phases will also be an SBS fixture with four games from the Round of 16, two from the Quarterfinals, both Semi Finals and the FIFA World Cup Final itself. Optus also have access to other FIFA events including the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2019 Women’s World Cup. So pending qualification you’ll also see the Matildas on the new home of the world game; Optus.

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