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Has football become too expensive to stream in Australia?

As the European Championships come to an end this Monday morning (AEST), with the English playing the Italians, club football from around the world will soon be back on the agenda for football fans across Australia.

This forthcoming season, however, Australian audiences will find their favourite football content in different locations.

New streaming services have entered the market and existing ones have stepped up their appetite for football broadcasting rights, giving the consumer more choices, but potentially a bigger hit to their wallets.

For example, whilst the EPL will remain on Optus Sport for next season at $14.99 a month, the telco has lost the rights to show the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and other UEFA associated club tournaments to relatively new streaming service Stan Sport.

Stan acting CEO, Martin Kugeler, said at the announcement of the three-year-deal: “Since Stan Sport launched in February, we have been delighted with the way Australians have taken up the service.

“The addition of the UEFA Club Competitions, including the UEFA Champions League, represents a unique strategic opportunity that will continue the momentum for Stan Sport and aligns directly with the Nine group sports strategy.

“Featuring the most outstanding players in the sport, the UEFA Club Competitions bring together the best clubs for more than 400 matches of world-class football.

“We can’t wait to showcase the most prestigious club football tournaments in the world and we thank UEFA for its trust in Stan to deliver their iconic football products to Australia.”

Stan Sport costs customers a minimum of $20 a month, meaning Australian football fans must now pay $35 a month to watch the Champions League and EPL across the two services, a jump of $20 a month on previous rates.

Alongside this, the A-League, W-League, FFA Cup, Socceroos and Matildas matches will not be shown on Foxtel’s Kayo Sports service, with those rights migrating to Network 10 and Paramount + in August, a brand-new streaming platform which will cost fans $8.99 a month.

Beverley McGarvey, Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President at ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand, said at the time of the agreement with FA: “Today marks a new era for Australian football. This landmark agreement gives all Australians access to more football than ever before.

“We are thrilled to partner with Football Australia and are proud to provide National Teams football and the FFA Cup unprecedented reach and exposure across our many platforms including on Network 10 and our new streaming service Paramount+.

“We will be showcasing all Socceroos, Westfield Matildas and FFA Cup matches, which not only complements our recently announced rights deal to broadcast every A-League and Westfield W-League match but reinforces our commitment to football in this country.”

Kayo Sports still has the rights to a suite of BEIN Sports content which includes the Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Scottish Championship, for which they charge $25 a month (although you can subscribe to BEIN directly for $20 a month).

Throw in Sports Flick for $14.99 a month, which showcases some of our local stars in leagues such as the K-League and Chinese Super League, being a football fan in Australia is becoming more and more of an expensive proposition.

The fragmentation of the football rights in Australia means if you want to subscribe to watch all of the football content on these streaming services, it will cost you a minimum of around $80 a month.

Of course, there are bundled deals with broadband connections which may cheapen the price of some these services, but that depends on an individual’s setup.

With millions of Australians also already signing up to entertainment services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon, many will find it hard to justify the price of all of these platforms for the world game – as limits will be reached.

Therefore, certain leagues and football content are likely to be prioritised by certain consumers, which may leave some services behind in the competitive marketplace.

Hypothetically, Paramount + could be a first-choice priority for many football fans, as it is cheaper than the other services, offers more than just sport on their platform and is the only place to watch all of the A-League, W-League and national teams.

But other fans can’t go without the EPL on a weekly basis, so Optus Sport will be their default service.

What do you think? Has football, overall, become too expensive to watch in Australia?

Get in touch with us via our social channels and let us know which services you will be keeping, signing up for, or dropping in the coming weeks.

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.

Manchester City teams up with Qualtrics

Manchester City Qualtrics

English Premier League side Manchester City have announced a new partnership with Qualtrics which will see the leader and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category become the Club’s Official Experience Management Software Partner.

Qualtrics empowers organisations to listen to customer and employee feedback, understand and analyse what they hear, then take action to improve experiences and design new ones, all in real time.

Manchester City and Qualtrics’ new partnership aligns with the club’s ongoing commitment to provide the best possible matchday experience for fans and will allow the club to use industry-leading experience management software to listen to fans’ feedback following each fixture.

From overall matchday experience – to catering, facilities, retail and more – Qualtrics can provide valuable insight and real-time data from fans to help the club shape their future strategic planning and decisions.

The new partnership is also expected to include further activations across wider areas of the organisation in coming months, using Qualtrics’ experience management software to listen to fan feedback and enhance the digital experience for Cityzens across the globe.

Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships Sales at City Football Group, Stephan Cieplik:

“As a club, we are continually working to improve our matchday offering for fans both in-stadium and across our digital platforms for those following across the globe,” he said.

“Through this new partnership with Qualtrics, we will be able to use industry-leading software to gather valuable feedback and insight from those at the heart of our club to help shape future decisions around matchdays.”

Qualtrics President of Products and Services, Brad Anderson:

“With Qualtrics, Manchester City can listen to and understand fan feedback in real time and take action to improve matchday experiences,” he said.

“But fan experience isn’t limited to the stadium — the digital and at-home fan experience is just as important, and Qualtrics will help Manchester City to deliver a personalized experience to their fans wherever they are.”

A-League supporter numbers grow – but 2 million football fans still unattached

Despite attendances dropping in A-League matches over the past few years, supporter numbers across the board have grown in the past 12 months, according to a recent Roy Morgan report.

“A-League clubs have enjoyed a substantial increase in support over the last year in line with the increases seen for other football codes such as the AFL and NRL,” Roy Morgan Industry Communications Director, Julian McCrann, stated.

“Over 3.6 million Australians now profess support for an A-League club, an increase of over 1 million (+38.3%) on a year ago.”

“As we have seen across other football codes the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many sports to be played in front of empty stadiums but live on TV to supporters stuck at home in the many lockdowns we have seen over the last 18 months around Australia.”

Sydney FC have the biggest supporter base with 640,000 fans according to the report, a 32% increase on last year’s numbers.

Melbourne Victory were also well placed on the supporter ladder, slightly behind Sydney with 632,000 fans, an increase of 46% on a year ago.

A-League Men’s champions Melbourne City and expansion side Macarthur FC also saw impressive numbers of increased support.

“Another big winner over the last year has been Melbourne City which won its first A-League Men Championship earlier this year after defeating Sydney FC in the Grand Final (between Melbourne’s fourth and fifth lockdowns) in late June,” McCrann said.

“Melbourne City’s support has increased by an impressive 50.9% on a year ago to 249,000 to have the highest support of any A-League Men expansion team.

“The newest club in the A-League Men, Macarthur FC, has had a successful first season in the league with a finals appearance, a victory in an Elimination Final, and a loss to eventual Champions Melbourne City in the semi-final.

“Not only has Macarthur FC performed strongly on the pitch but they have already attracted 84,000 supporters to rank in tenth place overall.”

Whilst all A-League sides saw an increase in supporters in 2021, Central Coast Mariners experienced the largest percentage rise from 2020 – with fan numbers growing by 90%.

In regards to television numbers, over 1.5 million Australians watch the A-League Men’s competition.

However, the report states that 3.5 million Australians watch any football match on television, including leagues such as the English Premier League or international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup.

This represents a huge untapped audience of around 2 million Australians, something which should be capitalised on.

“Looking ahead, the challenge for the A-League will be to continue to grow the league in an increasingly competitive sporting market and find a way to connect with the millions of Australians who love their football but don’t presently engage with the A-League,” McCrann said.

“There are over 2 million Australians out there who watch high quality football competitions, such as the English Premier League, who are yet to become fans of the A-League. This at-hand market of 2 million Australians is a significant market for the A-League to target during the recovery from Covid-19.”

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL), the new body running the professional game in this country, have continually emphasised in their messaging that they want to target football fans of all types to engage with the local elite competition.

The organisation’s investment in a $30 million digital hub is set to play a big part in converting these fans into A-League supporters.

“It is the biggest single investment football has made in itself. It’s a $30 million investment into digital infrastructure and data infrastructure that will serve the football fan. It won’t be the home of Australian football; it will be Australia’s home of football,” Danny Townsend, Managing Director at the APL, recently told FNR.

“What it will deliver is content – audio-visual, editorial and everything else you need.

“Part of the reason we are doing that, and investing in what we are calling APL studios, is ensuring that by organising the football community in one place we are able to deliver the utility in their everyday lives and focus on how they choose to consume football. If you do that – they’ll keep coming back.

“You put great content in there, you serve it, and you will continue to understand that fan and all of their preferences.”

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