Nets seal deal for Aussie football

Foxtel to pay channels $246 mil for five years

SYDNEY — Free webs Seven and Ten and paybox Foxtel announced Thursday a deal for broadcast rights to the lucrative Australian Football League season, breaking a yearlong deadlock.

Foxtel will pay the Seven and Ten networks A$315.5 million ($246 million) for the next five years for the right to show four live games each weekend.

Seven and Ten acquired the AFL rights in January 2006 for $609 million after a fierce battle with rival Nine Network and have been attempting to offset the cost by selling some gamesto Foxtel.

Sticking points over the past 12 months have included price, which Foxtel said had been unfairly raised due to the free webs’ bidding war, and which games each channel will show.

Under the deal, Seven and Ten retain four games per round — including one Friday night and Sunday afternoon game for Seven, and one Saturday afternoon and night game for Ten — as well as the finals series and Grand Final. Foxtel will get a selection of live games as well as replay rights to all matches.

Network Ten topper Grant Blackley said the yearlong battle had been worthwhile.

“The long and extensive negotiations with Foxtel have in fact provided a commercial outcome and a telecast schedule that is in the best interests of all parties and will see the AFL develop further as Australia’s premier sporting code,” he said.

AFL is one of the country’s most popular sports, with the Grand Final regularly one of the most watched programs of the year.

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