Free TV warns Australians could pay ‘$2,000 a year’ to watch sports

AFL footy free tv

The call follows revelations that consumers in the US are paying up to $2,400 each to watch the 2024 NFL season.  

As the government continues to consider the details of an updated anti-siphoning scheme, Free TV Australia has warned that Australians are facing annual payments of up to $2,000 a year to watch free sports. 

The industry body has called on the government to “urgently reconsider its approach to anti-siphoning legislation” following revelations that consumers in the US are facing paying up to $2,400 each to watch the 2024 NFL season.  

“This is a clear signal of what we will face in Australia if we don’t future-proof new laws to protect Australians’ right to free sport on TV, however they access it,” said Free TV CEO Bridget Fair

“With the current cost of living pressures Australians are facing, it is hard to understand why the government is not stepping in to stop this from happening.”

Australians increasingly watch free TV via BVOD apps like 7Plus, 9Now, or 10Play. Almost 40% of Australians do not have access to an aerial right now, and it is predicted that more than half of all viewing of free TV services will be via the internet by the end of the decade.

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-Siphoning) Bill 2024 will be considered by the Senate in June. Free TV has said that unless it is amended, “it will be outdated before the opening siren” due to the fact that it currently only guarantees free sport being watched via broadcast TV with an aerial, not free TV services using free streaming apps. 

The Bill prevents subscription streaming services such as Amazon, Apple and Disney from buying exclusive terrestrial broadcast rights to iconic sporting events like the Olympics, AFL, NRL and cricket, but they can still acquire exclusive digital rights. Free TV said this would lock out the millions of Australians who watch free sport on services such as 7plus, 9Now and 10Play

“If we don’t fix this glaring omission, it is a certainty that Australians will have to pay to watch the sports they currently get for free. And that’s just not right,” Fair concluded.

Earlier this month, the FTA networks launched a new campaign as part of their lobbying efforts around the anti-siphoning legislation. The Free Sport Is On The Line ads are running across print, online, and social media. 

“It’s very simple: the new Bill only guarantees free sports for Australians who have an aerial,” said Seven CEO Jeff Howard.

“It does not guarantee people will get free sport if they choose to stream it over the internet or don’t have an aerial. No aerial is going to mean no access to free sport in the future.

“Under the current proposed rules, Australians who don’t use an aerial will not have guaranteed access to free sport. The clock is ticking: as people increasingly use the internet to watch sport, they are going to have to pay unless the government acts now.”

See Also: ‘Major missed opportunity’: Industry reacts to prominence and anti-siphoning findings

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