Entertainment TV SBS could lose soccer to private sector

SBS could lose soccer to private sector

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Confusion reigns over the future of soccer at SBS, with rumours of a commercial takeover.

The national broadcaster will make “no more than a token bid” to secure UEFA Champions League broadcast rights, which are up for renewal this year, unnamed insiders have told Fairfax Media.

“Tentative discussions” were reportedly held with other free-to-air broadcasters about “offloading their A-League commitments for the next two seasons”.

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Ratings for last Friday night’s broadcast were unsatisfying at 113,000 across metro audiences, TV commentator Glenn Dyer said.

“I think they’ll get rid of it, because they can save money,” he said. “They need to, they’ve had their budget cut.”

The broadcaster shares A-League broadcast rights with Foxtel as the dominant party until 2016-17.

The Seven Network is tipped to bid for soccer broadcast rights when a new deal is to come up after 2016-17.

“I know that they’re extremely eager to get their hands on soccer, they want anything soccer including Socceroos games,” Mr Dyer said.

If the games move to Seven, which also shows AFL games, they risk being relegated to digital only channels or not being broadcast at all.

The broadcaster stopped short of committing to bidding for future A-League games.

“SBS has an esteemed 30 year pedigree in football and is committed to the game’s future,” spokeswoman Jessica Harris said.

“The rights for the Champions League are up for renewal this year and it is our intention to bid competitively for those rights.”

The Football Federation of Australia appeared ambivalent about the movements, saying the decision was up to SBS management.

“FFA is committed to working closely with all our broadcast partners in the year ahead being Fox Sports, SBS, Seven, Nine and ABC,” said an FFA spokesman.

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