Fox Sports exits the room but bright times ahead for Australian football’s broadcast future

Last Sunday’s A-League Grand Final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC signalled the end of Fox Sports’ 16-year broadcast partnership with Australian football.

Over the course of this time, Fox Sports have had a substantial influence in showcasing historic moments that shaped this crucial period in Australian football, whether that was through the A-League, W-League, FFA Cup or Socceroos and Matildas matches.

For many years they developed these products effectively and these moments were given the appropriate coverage. However, in recent times their commitment to the game waned due to dropping linear TV ratings and a further shift to focusing on their ‘marquee’ sports in Rugby League, Cricket and Australian Rules.

Due to these multiplying factors, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), a relatively new body who have now separated from the FA and effectively run the A-League and W-League, flexed their muscle and were first to announce a new broadcast partner in recent weeks in the form of ViacomCBS.

The US media company own Channel 10 in Australia and under the new deal an A-League game will be broadcast on the main channel of a commercial free-to-air station for the first time, every Saturday night (with a game in the W-League to be shown on a secondary channel every week).

The rest of the A-League and W-League games will be shown on new streaming platform Paramount+, which is set to launch in August of this year.

The deal presents an opportunity for the APL to make the domestic professional leagues appeal to the mainstream and tap into the young demographics that are prevalent across Network 10 programming.

Since the announcement of the deal, which also includes ViacomCBS purchasing a minor stake in the APL, we have seen snippets of cross promotion between A-League and W-League players on Channel 10’s flagship programs.

Michael Zullo and Jenna McCormick were featured prominently on The Project speaking about the game’s future, whilst Archie Thompson, a Melbourne Victory legend, will be a contestant on Celebrity MasterChef when the show airs later this year.

Efforts such as this, in normalising the sport and its heroes across the network, will ramp up in the months to come when the contract officially begins at the start of August.

Finally, the stories of our players will be told to a wider audience, in primetime slots, whether through variety shows or the pre-match lead-in program which will air before the A-League game every Saturday.

Alongside this, the APL administration are lining up a $30 million marketing strategy to grow the audience of the game, which is set to culminate in the creation of a digital hub for Australian football fans with expected content such as written stories, video content, news clips, behind the scenes footage and more.

While details remain scarce on the digital strategy, APL MD Danny Townsend told the Australian: “The digital product will be the biggest investment the game has ever made in itself. It is not just for A-League fans, it will be for football fans, participants, coaches, managers of grassroots clubs, members of A-League clubs, digital fans of other leagues around the world and so on.”

The focus of the strategy looks to incorporate the whole football pyramid, not just the professional game, but the question of how exactly NPL content will be included in the offering lingers unanswered.

Currently state and territory federations across Australia live-stream their NPL content through their Facebook or YouTube pages, or in Football NSW, Football Queensland and Football SA’s case through NPL.TV.

Will live-streaming of these matches now be broadcast on this new digital hub funded by the APL? That remains up in the air, but a nationally unified approach for NPL content may be more commercially appealing.

Townsend told this publication earlier in the year that talks have occurred to find the best solution: “We are up for working with the NPL and helping them grow the consumption of their content. They’ve got NPL.TV which is a fantastic initiative. How we work with that, with APL and our content, is important in bringing that unity back to the game.”

What will certainly help the APL’s mission of unity in the game was the follow-up announcement that the remaining Socceroos, Matildas and FFA Cup broadcast rights have also been snaffled up by ViacomCBS, with games to be shown on Channel 10 and Paramount+.

In a boost for the profile of the competition and the local clubs all across Australia who partake in it, the FFA Cup Final will for the first time be shown on free-to-air television.

The rest of the games in the Round of 32 onwards will be shown on Paramount+, with the competition set for a new name and fresh production values on the streaming platform.

The Socceroos and Matildas will also find a regular broadcast home on Channel 10 for games outside of the World Cup, after finding themselves on various free-to-air channels in the past few years.

Australian football may have departed from Fox Sports after a long-standing partnership, but significant investment from a new broadcast partner and stakeholders should push the game towards its potential.

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Football Australia appoint financial expert Caroline Veitch

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Football Australia confirm Caroline Veitch will become the new Chief Financial Officer.

Caroline, with over 20 years of experience in consumer-facing organizations, will join CEO James Johnson’s Executive Leadership Team.

Veitch has held senior executive roles at Lion, KPMG, and Endeavour Group, leading high-performing finance teams. Her extensive career in finance is complemented by her expertise in strategy, consulting, change management, and HR.

Her distinctive blend of commercial and corporate experiences, coupled with her capacity to achieve results, enact change, and advance strategy through collaborative efforts across functions, positions her as a natural and compelling leader.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, expressed his enthusiasm for Veitch’s appointment.

“We are thrilled to welcome Caroline Veitch to Football Australia. Her wealth of experience and proven track record in leading finance functions, business transformation, embedding commercial and financial rigour and balancing short- and long-term priorities will be invaluable as we continue to grow and strengthen our organisation,” he said in a statement.

“Caroline’s strategic mindset and leadership skills will be a tremendous asset to our executive team and the broader football community.”

Caroline Veitch shared her excitement about joining Football Australia.

“I am absolutely delighted to take on the role of Chief Financial Officer of Football Australia. Football’s ability to bring people together is unparalleled, and I am excited to work alongside the many different facets of the football community in Australia. Football has a very bright future in Australia and I’m looking forward to being part of shaping that, ensuring that the sport continues to thrive,” she said in a statement.”

Veitch’s appointment marks a significant step forward for Football Australia as the organisation continues to build on its commitment to excellence and innovation in Australian football.

As a female leader it’s important for Veitich to utilise the popularity of the women’s game and the new projected $200m TV deal to build a good financial foundation that invests at all levels.

The Play Our Way grant amongst the local government grants helping grassroots football are only the first step in creating a sustainable base for the sport.

Veitch will be commencing her role on the 26th of August 2024.

Football Australia holds its 21st Annual General Meeting

The twenty-first AGM of Football Australia Limited was held on Thursday, 30 May 2024, at Football South Australia’s offices at ServiceFM Stadium via videoconference and in Adelaide.

The AGM coincided with the release of the Football Australia 2023 Abridged Annual Review.

At the AGM, members reviewed Football Australia’s Financial Report, which uniquely covered the six months ending 31 December 2023.

This transition period followed Football Australia’s shift to a calendar-based financial year, aligning financial reporting with the operational season. Members also reviewed the FY24 Annual Budget and discussed the organisation’s activities during this period.

The Operating Surplus (Before Grants and Distributions) was at an all-time low for the FA between June 2023 and December 2023, with the value at $6.1m loss.

Interestingly, the report showed that $27.7m in total was invested amongst the national teams, with the Matildas getting the bulk of it at $13.45m. Socceroos were given $6.3mil and the rest was shared amongst National Teams support, Women’s and Men’s junior national teams.

An election for a Director position on the Football Australia Board was conducted as per the Constitution. Mr. Joseph Carrozzi AM, nominated by Football South Australia and seconded by Northern New South Wales Football, was re-elected for a term ending at the 2027 AGM.

Additionally, the meeting ratified Dr. Deidre Anderson AM as a member and Chair of the Women’s Football Council, an appointment that received unanimous support.

Following the AGM, the Board convened and unanimously re-elected Mr. Anter Isaac as Chairman and Ms Jaclyn Lee-Joe as Deputy Chair. Chairman Isaac shared his vision for the strategic direction and future ambitions of Football Australia.

“I am delighted to congratulate Joseph Carrozzi on his re-election to the Board, and I warmly welcome Deidre Anderson as a Member and new Chair of the Women’s Football Council,” said Mr. Isaac in his statement.

“Their collective expertise and dedicated leadership are pivotal as we continue to drive our strategic vision and foster growth across all levels of Australian football.

“In my inaugural Chairman’s Report, I am heartened by the transformative journey we’ve embarked on since November 2023. The past six months have been crucial in setting our strategic direction toward sustainability and growth at all levels.

“Our Board has pivoted from short-term, transactional thinking to embrace a strategic, long-term vision, fostering a culture where trust, capability, and capacity thrive.

“This shift is supported by substantial investments in our systems and processes, aligning our operations more closely with the football season to enhance efficiencies. Moreover, strategic appointments like that of Gary Moretti as Head of National Teams underscore our commitment to improving performance and leadership.

“Looking ahead, we are committed to fostering collaboration and unity, essential for the long-term success and growth of Australian football.

“We aim to maintain a formidable, stable, and dependable presence, both locally and internationally.”

The Financial report and statements by the board members suggest the FA are looking to strategically fund the national teams and build off the success of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup that saw the Matildas and Women’s football get majority of the investment.

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