Game Changing Media?

Yesterday the AFL announced a $1.253 billion television deal over the next five years. (AFL post)
As might be expected there has been enormous coverage over the nature of this deal and its implications for mobile consumers. Clare Kermond and Lucy Battersby pointed out that:

Telstra will stream matches live over the Next G network to smartphones and tablets, and at least one live game per week to T-Box customers. It has also secured a deal with Foxtel to stream every match live if T-Box customers subscribe to Foxtel in a service due to start in May.

I noted Mike Minehan’s observation in a radio interview:

Telstra before was really just a carrier, now it’s a broadcaster and programmer, and this has changed the broadcasting landscape in my opinion.

Telstra’s view of the deal can be found at this post. David Thoday commented that:

This agreement represents the coming of age for mobile technology and IPTV. No longer do Australians need to be tied to the lounge-room to catch Australia’s favourite sporting code live.

Under the agreement:

  • All matches including pre-season, home and away, finals and the Grand Final, as well as the Brownlow Medal, will be streamed live and exclusive to mobile phones and tablets on the Telstra Next G® network.
  • All matches including pre-season, home and away, finals and the grand final, will be streamed live to customers who subscribe to Telstra’s FOXTEL on T-Box service which will be launching shortly. This may also extend to other IPTV-enabled devices connected to Telstra BigPond® fixed broadband services. This includes one match per round that will be made available to Telstra T-Box customers regardless of whether they are subscribed to the FOXTEL on T-Box service.
  • Telstra T-Box customers can also get access to match replays on demand, as well as the interactive AFL Game Analyser.
  • The AFL’s website,, and all AFL club sites, will continue to be managed by Telstra.
  • Telstra will further evolve AFL online, mobile and IPTV services as new technologies emerge giving fans access to new content and increased interactivity.
  • Telstra will continue to be the AFL’s telecommunications services partner.
  • Telstra will expand its sponsorship of the AFL to engage with football fans at the grass roots and match day level.

This announcement comes in a week when Rugby eNews published a story about viewing figures from the 2007 Rugby World Cup:

FEWER THAN one million people from outside of the eight major rugby nations watched the 2007 World Cup final, according to an independent report. The report, Putting Rugby First, contradicts RWC organisers who claim there was a 4.2 billion total cumulative average audience. According to its findings, only 33 million people watched the final between South Africa and France four years ago on television. Of those fans who soaked up the action in front of the box, 97 percent came from the eight major playing nations – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France. Only 500,000 fans from the other playing nations watched the game live.

For a blog discussion of the Putting Rugby First Report see Total Flanker’s take.
The difference between 2007 and 2011 can be seen in data about online behaviours at the 2011 Cricket World Cup. In February I posted about ESPNCricinfo and IBM’s partnership at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Some of the data are staggering. A report from Medianama records that:

  • Cricinfo says it logged 1.8 billion page views and 4.43 billion minutes during the ICC World Cup, across all platforms including its website, mobile site and native mobile apps on iPhone and Android platforms, and an average minute audience of 72,000 people, globally through the entire tournament.
  • Cricinfo’s native mobile apps from the company generated 91 million page views and 342 million minutes through the entire tournament.
  • Cricinfo registered heavy traffic from India during the World Cup on its mobile website, logging more than 377.3 million page views and 807.2 million total minutes of time. India recorded the maximum number of mobile web visitors compared to other markets.
  • The live streaming of the ICC World Cup received more than 55 million views globally with 30 million streams to 17 million unique users. Upto the Indian-South Africa game, games where India played accounted for 10.7 million streams peaking at 3 million.
  • – generated more than 175 million page views and 20 million unique users between Feb 15th and March 23rd 2011. On the India-South Africa match day, it received 12.7 million page views.
  • India-Pak Semi Final: On 30th March 2011, the day of the India-Pakistan Semi-Final match, ESPNcricinfo’s mobile website logged more than 1.9 million visitors and 52.4 million page views, a whopping 2166% rise compared to the site’s daily average of 2010. The ESPNcricinfo website recorded 6.5 million visitors and 220.5 million total minutes, in addition to average minute audience of 153,098, that day. Overall, all digital platforms of ESPNcricinfo registered 133 million page views, 349 million minutes and an average minute audience of 242,265 people, globally on the India-Pakistan Semi Final day.
  • India-Sri Lanka Finals: The ESPNcricinfo mobile site recorded more than 45 million page views, accounting for 45% of all page views on all ESPNcricinfo platforms on 2nd April 2011.

It will be fascinating see what patterns emerge at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and for AFL from 2012 on. I take Mike Minehan’s view about this deal being a game changing moment. It occurs at a time when iPhone, Android and Tablet platforms are set to grow exponentially as platforms for media content.
Photo Credits
The Gabba
Sachin with CWC 2011


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