Before the centre bounce: What Seven’s AFL kick off means for brands in 2023

AFL women's world cup

Rob Maclean: “We’re not waiting until 2025, we’re starting now”

On Thursday night the Richmond Tigers will go head to head with the Carlton Blues, marking the first round of the 2023 AFL season. With the final product set to air on Seven to legions of footy fans – both in the AFL heartland of Melbourne and around the country – there has been a lot of work behind the scenes ahead of the centre bounce. 

For the sports sales team, a lot of that work has focussed on embedding brands in the AFL broadcasts while simultaneously bringing fans the best viewer experience they can. 

Mediaweek spoke to Seven West Media national sport sales director, Rob Maclean, before Round One kicks off from 7pm AEDT on March 16.

AFL commentary team

7AFL commentary team: James Brayshaw, Daisy Pearce, and Brian Taylor

In September last year, Seven (alongside Foxtel) signed on the dotted line to lock in the AFL broadcast rights from 2025 until the end of the 2031 season, in a deal worth $4.5 billion – the biggest broadcast deal in Australian sporting history. The current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season.

For Maclean, being able to take that new deal – that covers broadcast and, for the first time, digital rights – to advertisers has been “really significant.” 

“We’ve got long standing supporters of Seven AFL, and what it’s really enabled us to do is to go to them and say, ‘we have the certainty of having this wonderful product that can connect with heartland Australia – a truly national audience – all the way up to 2031’. That enables us to forge and really strengthen these partnerships with advertisers, with the kind of longevity which we know will deliver brand health outcomes that they are looking to achieve.

“Footy, as it stands already, has broad appeal amongst our audience. It contributes to a significant amount of the streaming minutes on 7Plus, and that’s in the absence of live streaming. It’s given us an opportunity to say that we’re not waiting until 2025, we’re starting now – we’re looking to prime our product to ensure that we serve the best and most relevant, footy-related content on that platform.”

See Also: Seven and Foxtel retain the AFL broadcast rights in new deal

Both viewers and partners will see the results of Seven’s promise to serve the best content they can, with Maclean and the team working on a number of projects that will bring the AFL to life outside of the linear broadcast.

“Some of the things we’re looking to put in place to revamp that AFL hub of 7Plus, you’ll see things like FAST channels with This Week In Seven AFL, state leagues, and of course AFLW. We will have new show pages to cater to the super fans of each club. Over on, for instance, we’re launching a brand new match centre that’s going to bring more analysis and behind-the-scenes content for fans to enjoy. 

We’re really creating more touch points and more ways for fans to engage with our content, and for brands to make that memorable connection with consumers. Come 2025, it ramps up again – that’s where it gets really exciting with the introduction of streaming. It’ll be a more personalised experience with things like multi-view, on-demand replays and highlights. We’ll be able to have dynamic interactions, and geotargeted experiences. I think advertisers are really excited about that as they look forward to 2025 and onwards.”


2022 AFL Grand Final winners, Geelong Cats

Joining Seven’s coverage as broadcast partners this year are Toyota, AAMI, Macca’s, Harvey Norman, and Bunnings.

Sportsbet, Coles, Telstra, Industry Super Funds, Hostplus, CBUS, NAB, Asahi Beverages, Uber Eats, Chemist Warehouse, OMO Ultimate, Cash Converters, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Tradie Underwear, and Colgate-Palmolive join as broadcast sponsors, with additional brands signing on as local market sponsors.

See Also: Seven announces broadcast partners and sponsors of the 2023 AFL season

Almost every sponsor from the 2022 season has renewed for this season, as well as adding a couple of brands into the mix. Maclean says that it is the value of the Seven AFL partnership that’s behind the retention rate.

“They recognise the value that we can deliver, the effectiveness of the campaigns that we can execute, and ultimately the return that can be achieved by aligning to Seven’s AFL property. We’ve got a really fantastic track record of delivering great solutions for our partners, many of whom have been collaborating with Seven for a number of years now and support the AFL industry. It just really reinforces that Seven, and Seven’s AFL coverage is the most powerful platform for brands over winter.”

Foxtel Group

There are multiple factors that make the partnership so valuable for brands, with Maclean pointing to two in particular.

“One of the things we’ve been able to execute to great effect is a national proposition off the back of the Prime acquisition. I think brands this year appreciated having one conversation – through one transaction we can put them in front of eyeballs across not only the metro cities, but also the regional towns

“Part of the uniqueness of our proposition is that we can unlock the complete AFL fan audience potential. By that I mean, we can put these brands on the Foxtel on Kayo platform as well, across the biggest games of the week. Through the Seven produced broadcast games – on a Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday, and of course into finals – we can connect brands that are dealing with us with those fans as well.”

One of the jewels in the crown of Seven’s AFL partnerships is the 30 second break following a goal – a spot that the Seven team call “the most powerful 30 seconds in media.” For Maclean, the power of creative in context is what makes the spot so unique.

“For the brands that are partners of Seven or the AFL who might have integrated TVCs featuring match vision or ambassadors, to have that play out in an environment such as a live match between goals, it’s the most powerful placement you can imagine. We know the power of the first in break position – there’s been a few different case studies that have solidified the effectiveness of that. When you look across the AFL, we basically are back-to-back first in break positions in the most heightened and engaging of environments.”


The 2023 AFL season will begin with the Tigers taking on Blues at the MCG. Looking ahead to what this season holds, Maclean says that it’s looking bright both on and off the field. 

“On the field, it’s shaping up as a wonderful season, the pieces are really in place to generate mass awareness, viewing, and excitement. When you look at some of the bigger clubs that we expect to be at the top of the leaderboard this year – I’m talking about clubs like the Blues and the Swans again – that’s exciting for the game because they are well supported clubs and that will generate a lot of enthusiasm. 

“I’m looking forward to AFLW again, building on what’s been done to have every club represented and for the women to have more clean air out the back of the men’s competition. We know that will go from strength to strength and brands and certainly leaning in

“We’re excited about just delivering a wonderful experience for our fans, building on what we’ve been able to do to establish ourselves as the home of footy.”

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