In Mediaspy today there's an interesting report about the impending AFL rights negotiations with Citigroup warning that the asking price of 1 billion dollars is too high.
You can read that story here Citigroup issues AFL TV rights warning: $1bn is too high
Increasingly I think the commercial networks would be mugs to pay $1b for AFL rights. The ratings for AFL keep sliding down the slope each year and you have the added logistical headache of finding alternative programming for Sydney and Brisbane. Last Thursday’s match was beamed live into Sydney on channel One, only 9,000 people watched! How the AFL thinks they sustain 2 teams in that city let alone justify a billion dollar price tag for the rights is beyond me.
Ten will want to be involved again because they have the sports channel (I believe they’re also going after Rugby League which they had during the 80s), current Seven is suing Ten so I’m not sure that they’ll work together, but Seven needs a partner and I don’t think it will be Foxtel, unless Foxtel just partners up with Ten (I don’t think Nine will be a player in the negotiations)
You only have to look at the (non) performance of One HD which regularly nets only 1 or 2% of the Audience vs channels like 11 or GO! which get up to 5 or 6% to see that live sport is no longer king in this country.