Optus wins Australian rights for the English Premier League, but it's unclear how it will make it to TV

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Optus has won the Australian broadcasting rights for the English Premier League over three years in another huge upheaval for the established order in the nation’s sports TV sector.

Optus reportedly paid $US45 million a year for three years and includes live broadcast and digital rights for broadband and mobile for all 380 Premier League games each year.

The catch is it’s not clear just yet how the live broadcasting will work.

“Our goal is to make this content available to as many fans as possible – but we’re not going into to detail about distribution platforms at this stage,” an Optus spokesperson told AdNews.

The result is that as things stand, there’ll be no EPL next year on Foxtel, which is 50% owned by Telstra, Optus’s major telco competitor in Australia.

If Optus decides not to on-sell matches to a broadcaster, one likely solution is through Fetch TV, a digital set-top box solution over which Optus already provides a range of channels.

One of the channel packs on Fetch is beIN Sports, the Qatar-based international sports network, which was also a bidder for the Australian EPL rights. Currently a beIN Sports pack on Fetch carries a range of international soccer leagues including the Italy’s Serie A, the English Championship, and Germany’s Bundesliga. It costs $14.95 a month.

Optus CEO said the rights win was “another significant step in our strategy to become a mobile-led multimedia company”.

It has been a year of upheaval for Australian sports broadcasting. Fox Sports and News Corp Australia, which owns the other half of Foxtel, were infuriated by a deal struck between Channel 9 and the NRL for rugby league rights which involved a number of games moving over to free-to-air television.

With the rise of on-demand TV services such as Netflix, now estimated to have a presence in almost a million Australian homes, live sport has become core to the value offering of subscription television services like Foxtel.

News Corp later announced a $2.5 billion, six-year rights deal for the AFL, involving Seven West Media and Telstra.

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