End of an Era For Soccer Broadcasting in Australia

With Optus releasing how it will broadcast the EPL from the 2016/17 season I have come to realize how good we have had it with watching the World Game in this country. In case you are not aware, Optus/SingTel have stumped both Foxtel and Bein Sports in obtaining the Australian rights to broadcast EPL games from next season.  While SBS will be able to broadcast 1 EPL live game per week.  The rest of the games will be broadcast via Optus devices, subscription channels and stream TV.  This will change the way we have watched not just EPL, but also the World Cup as SBS will have access to 25 games and Optus have the rest of the games.  While SBS will still have Socceroos games and the knockout stages this will severely limit the viewing for a lot of soccer followers in this country.

Growing up in Australia in the ’70s and ’80s the only soccer that was shown was Big League soccer on the ABC late on a Monday night. Many nights I can remember pecking around the hallway watching the show and hoping my dad would not catch me watching it (he of course knew I was, but would give me at least 20 mins before I was ordered back to bed).  SBS of course filled the void with their coverage, but that was only highlights and we got the highlights a week after the actual games.  So for a boy loving the game I was starved.

Pay TV coming to Australia was a godsend for me. When Galaxy (remember them) was installed in the family home to be able to watch live EPL games was a godsend.  To be able finally watch Manchester Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea live and at my leisure was only something I could have only dreamed of.  It also forced SBS to ramp up it’s coverage of the Champions League so now we had games from the elite of European football.  Moving out of the family home with fellow Almanacer Steve Baker we purchased Foxtel within the first week of living at Casa La Goodfellas.  Not only did we have the luxury of EPL games, but also watching AFL, Rugby League, Cricket and Union.  For a couple of sporting bachelors this was paradise.  Since then every place I have lived has had Foxtel and have happily been watching live soccer both domestically and internationally.  Of course this all ends come next season.  While I understand there is a demand for content on mobiles and stream TV for us Gen X’s and older used to watching the game on the TV our viewing habits will need to change and possibly have an additional cost as well.  Maybe due to my age and grumpiness I am skeptical on how successful this will be.  However the kids seem to have a grasp of this latest technology and more than likely Stream TV will take off leaving us old fogies behind.

Saying that this will not be isolated to Soccer only. The next TV rights deals for AFL, League and Cricket could also go down this path which will change the way we watch all sports in this country.  Yes there will be a revolution, but how many of us will be willing to ride along.  In the meantime I shall enjoy the last few months of watching EPL on Foxtel and just remember that I had it quite good for a while there.

About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast


  1. Dennis Gedling says

    SBS doing a deal to offload half of their free to air World Cup coverage so they can show some puissant Premier League game once a week is piss poor. Free to air coverage of the greatest thing in the sport and then beyond so they can show West Brom V Burnley or some other token crap.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    I’ll really miss the superb Fox Sports EPL coverage. Not just the games but the analysis by Bozza, Adam Peacock et al. Just as it’s been a huge disappointment not to have the La Liga anymore. Foxtel will lose heaps of subscribers over this. Not that I’ll be missing much with my team, Newcastle United, well in the relegation zone. My life will probably be better for not getting to watch them…

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