Optus Has The Exclusive Rights To Broadcast Next Year's EPL Games, Live And Online

Starting in August next year, Optus has secured the exclusive Australian rights to live broadcasts and digital rights for broadband and mobile for the Barclays Premier League, the top rung on the English football league ladder. This is a coup for Optus, stealing the rights from long-time broadcaster Fox Sports, but what does it mean? Where will you actually be able to watch the games?

EPL image via Shutterstock

The current state of play is that we don't actually know what Optus is going to be doing with the EPL.

Here's an overview of the traditonal live TV broadcast capacity that Optus currently has in Australia: ...nothing. Unlike the part-Telstra-owned Foxtel, Optus doesn't have its own pay TV platform -- its existing Optus Television cable network currently re-sells Foxtel services. Optus home broadband customers also have access to the Fetch TV IPTV service, though, and Fetch TV might be the key to Australia's number two telco's online aspirations for the EPL.

An Optus representative told AdNews: "By broadcast rights we mean exclusive live broadcasts of all 380 games for the three season running from 2016/17 until 2018/19. Our goal is to make this content available to as many fans as possible -- but we’re not going into to detail about distribution platforms at this stage." This is interesting.

If Optus doesn't have a broadcast platform, it'll either need to somehow get one of its own before August 2016, or it'll have to reach an agreement with a live TV broadcast partner like Foxtel or one of Australia's free-to-air digital TV networks. In Australia, football fans split their time between SBS 2 and Fox Sports to watch games in the Hyundai A-League, but Fox also holds the lion's share of rights to international leagues.

Online, Fetch TV is looking like the likely partner for a custom-made EPL app by Optus, but it could also make its own bespoke online subscription model not tied to its own home broadband service. The deal also notably includes the rights to mobile broadcasts, where Optus is Australia's second largest network in Australia after Telstra and before the combined power of Vodafone and TPG. So there could be a mobile app and standalone subscription too.

We'll find out more in due course, but for the time being, here's all the info shared by Optus.

Optus today announced it has won the bid for the exclusive Australian rights to the Barclays Premier League for three seasons, commencing in August 2016. 
This includes live broadcast coverage and digital rights for broadband and mobile for all 380 Premier League games, every season. 
Allen Lew, Chief Executive Officer at Optus said, “This is another significant step in our strategy to become a mobile-led multimedia company. 
We are dedicated to delivering the best domestic and international entertainment for our customers. With 930 million followers worldwide, the Premier League is one of the most sought after sports properties for content providers. 
Today’s announcement is a great win for Optus and will ensure that Aussie football fans can watch all the action from the world’s most popular football league,” Mr Lew said. 
Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman at the Premier League said, “We are extremely pleased that Optus has chosen to invest in our broadcasting rights for the three seasons 2016/17 to 2018/19. 
“They have an excellent track record as a multifaceted telecommunications company in Australia and we look forward to working with them to make all the best Premier League content available to our fans across the country,” Mr Scudamore said.