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Fox unit nets soccer deal

Sportcaster secures TV rights to home games

SYDNEY — Oz paybox Fox Sports has kicked in A$120 million ($89 million) for the TV rights to all home games of Australia’s national soccer team, the Socceroos, for seven years, taking the sport from free-to-air TV for the first time.

Deal with the Football Federation of Australia includes the 2007 and 2011 Asian Cup tournaments, Asian Cup qualifiers and the World Cup qualifiers.

The game has taken a long time to take roots with Aussies, but with an aud of more than 2 million watching the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on multicultural pubcaster SBS earlier this year, it is beginning to show potential.

Due to its relatively low profile, soccer is not included in Oz’s antisiphoning laws that require certain events to be shown on free-to-air.

Deal is a blow to SBS, which had had some of its biggest auds when the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years. It has long been a supporter of soccer but does not have the coin to compete with Fox Sports.

Pubcaster retains the rights to the World Cup finals in Germany in June.

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