Telstra secures streaming rights to A League, FFA soccer

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Australia’s premier soccer competition will be coming to Telstra mobile phone plans, with the telco acquiring the digital broadcast rights for the A League for the next five years.

Telstra and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) have entered into an agreement that will also see other FFA soccer matches streamed live on the go.

The agreement would mean Telstra could use its own app to stream A League and lower Australian soccer league games live until 2023.

The deal is a result of a sub-license between Telstra and Fox Sports, with Telstra using the existing ‘dirty feed’ supplied by Foxtel. This means that customers will see the same ads and commentary as on Foxtel.

Telstra will create a new ‘My Football Live App’, with live matches available via a Telstra Live Pass. This would work similarly to existing NRL and AFL Game Pass apps, which customers currently able to stream games data-free.

Telstra Chief Marketing Officer Joe Pollard said the deal is about creating a complete, year-round sports package for Telstra customers.

“Sport is a big differentiator for our consumers as a reason to be with Telstra. The fact that it is a summer sport gives us the opportunity to have the sport all year round,” Ms Pollard said.

“The 52-week sport proposition will hopefully bring in new customers that are attracted to Telstra who weren’t attracted before, and this will be the reason. For our other sports lovers it will be the reason to stay because now you have the complete sports package.”

The news comes after Optus resecured the rights to the English Premier League (EPL) for another three seasons, as well as the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This would mean Telstra is a fair way off branching out to streaming one of the richest sporting leagues in the world.

The addition of Telstra’s streaming service will strengthen the sport in Australia further, according to FFA CEO David Gallop.

“To be able to get our content onto Australia’s biggest mobile provider in the country is going to raise awareness and interest in football, and as all boats rise with the tide, we are very optimistic that this will help fuel attendance,” he said.

“We all know watching sport on your mobile is increasingly popular but I think it will be attractive to both a younger and older audience. I don’t think it is going to just be for the young people. (In) this day and age, even the most technically unsavvy people know how to watch footage through an app.”

In Australia, the original FFA rights deal was signed in 2016 and was worth $346 million. Fox Sports currently broadcasts all A League matches, plus Socceroos and Matildas games.

Network Ten simulcasts one A League match per week, as well as Socceroos games.

The new streaming app – released in June – will cost $99.99 for the annual pass, $16.99 for a monthly one or $4.99 for a weekly pass, according to Telstra.

Is soccer streaming the next big thing?

That’s what Australia’s largest telcos and their executives would lead you to believe anyway. In 2015, Optus created headlines for snatching EPL rights from Fox Sports in a monumental deal, and it did so again in 2018.

Telstra’s new streaming service for A League soccer will work similarly to NRL and AFL Game Pass apps, which work as more of a supplement to Fox Sports, rather than a competitor. On these apps, users are unable to stream on a screen larger than seven inches, relegating customers to mobiles or tablets.

Users are also unable to use Google Chromecast to cast their stream to a regular-sized TV.

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