This is seriously massive news for both SBS and football fans in Australia.
After spectacularly swooping on the exclusive broadcast rights to the English Premier League, whisking them out from under the feet of an unsuspecting Foxtel in one of the biggest coups in Australian broadcasting history, Optus has today revealed it has struck a partnership with SBS that will see EPL football shown on free-to-air TV for the first time in over a decade.
The telecommunications giant also revealed plans for an exclusive, dedicated, 24/7 channel that will broadcast every EPL game live into Australia, via the company’s Fetch service.
The deal will see one EPL game a week (a Saturday game) sub-licensed to the SBS for the next three EPL seasons. The network will beam it on their free-to-air channels.
The rest of the broadcasting will be done via Optus Fetch and a channel, with up to 10 sub-channels, that will show every EPL game live. Fetch will be available in homes via a new mini-set top box, similar in design to the latest Telstra TV.
For those of you not keen on adding another piece of hardware to your already cramped HDMI real estate, fear not. The service will also be available as a subscription-based app (not unlike your AFL Season Pass or NBA League Pass) on tablet and mobile devices, which will also be progressively rolled out across “select” media TV devices (*cough*Apple TV*cough*) and certain Smart TV platforms as well.
Optus also confirmed that their satellite service will be used to beam the games into pubs, clubs, and other commercial venues.
Other plans in today’s announcement include the launch of a dedicated EPL website that will provide Australian-based news and content relating to the EPL.
And if all that by itself weren’t enough, the company dropped the absolute bombshell that they will also be shouldering at least part of the broadcast rights to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Hells bloody bells.
Optus have revealed their EPL plans – and also that they will be broadcasting the 2018 World Cup…! pic.twitter.com/zClgFxzqCt
— Kevin Airs (@KevinAirs442) March 17, 2016
Optus CEO Allen Lew lauded the announcement today in a statement issued to media:
“With Optus, football fans are spoiled for choice. As the only telco in Australia to own and operate network infrastructure across all three mobile, fixed and satellite platforms, we are in a unique position to deliver the English Premier League and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to more Australians, in more ways than ever before.”
“Broadcast has been a key part of our services since the inception of Optus’ satellite business. We have developed rich expertise in broadcasting and have a long history in delivering high quality live broadcasts via our satellite fleet.”
Elsewhere, managing director of SBS Michael Ebeid was understandably chuffed on the whole thing:
“It is wonderful to be able to bring English Premier League to Australian free-to-air audiences for the first time in 12 years. This allows us to have 38 EPL games every single year. Instead of just the World Cup every four years.”
“We are getting one match per round and that’s every year for the next three years.”
The deal comes into effect from the beginning of the 2016-17 EPL Season, which is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, August 13th.
This is, all hyperbole aside, an absolutely massive score.
Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty.