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media companies including Ten and Nine make their pitch

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Nine already broadcasts the NRL, the AFL’s major competitor, in a deal that stretches until the end of 2027, while Stan broadcasts rugby union.

Each of the free-to-air networks broke down how they could broadcast, with games divided between free to air, alternative channels and streaming services such as 9Now and 7plus.

Sources confirmed that Paramount, which owns CBS in the United States and has recently paid billions for the streaming rights to cricket’s Indian Premier League, still wanted to win the entire rights package – free and pay. It did not wish to win the rights and then sell off particular slots, such as Friday or Saturday nights, as had been speculated.

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Each of the media outfits’ chief executives were represented in the meetings with McLachlan, including Seven’s James Warburton and his Melbourne lieutenant Lewis Martin, Ten’s co-chiefs Jarrod Villani and Bev McGarvey, Nine’s boss Mike Sneesby, and Foxtel’s CEO Patrick Delany and his key Fox Sports executive Steve Crawley.

That chairman Goyder and two other commissioners – Seek co-founder Paul Bassat and ex-Macquarie Capital boss Robin Bishop – were in the pitch meetings is a measure of the stakes for the AFL, which became even more reliant on broadcast revenue during the pandemic. The AFL is awaiting the next broadcast deal before striking a pay deal with the men’s players and detailing the funding for the 18 clubs. The new deal will be struck before McLachlan exits as AFL CEO at season’s end.

While the AFL also met with global tech giant Amazon in Los Angeles in April, The Age and Herald cannot confirm the extent of its interest in gaining an AFL foothold. There has been speculation that Amazon would be interested in snaring a Thursday night slot if the AFL expands to play Thursday night games almost every week in the home and away season.

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