News Corp last year gave a $300 million lifeline to Foxtel, which has been facing its own challenges as subscribers shift to cheaper streaming services. But the Murdoch-controlled media company, which has loaned Foxtel $900 million over the years, has said it will not tip more money into the business .
Mr Thomson said Foxtel, which is 65 per cent owned by News Corp and 35 per cent owned by Telstra, would base its future decisions on whether to invest in sports rights on the quality of games, rather than just the quantity.
“These things are not just about the quantity of matches, they are about the quality of the experience for our customers,” he said. "We all know which teams are the big drawers and the importance of exclusivity. And that for us is a big factor. Not just how much we spend, but the quality of the relationship we have with the sport and how the sport understands our needs.
AFL transitioning to their own online platform (WatchAFL) is inevitable. Until then there’s a bit of a mutually assured destruction standoff going on, where AFL isn’t confident the whole audience would come across from Foxtel, while Foxtel are hoping that AFL will accept less money because there’s no competitors.
The AFL is a ‘tier 1 sport’ by any measure you care to name. This is just Foxtel saying ‘we’re not going to broadcast women’s basketball anymore’. It’s going to suck for niche sports, but the big pigs in the barnyard will do just fine.
Of course, I’ve thought for a while that the AFL is planning for the end of broadcast deals completely, and will probably at some point launch its own streaming service and rake in the cash directly rather than through a middleman. Probably in conjunction with Crocmedia, god help us all.