The AFL announced today that it had reached a three year deal (2012-2014) with Fox Sports for weekly AFL coverage on FOX Soccer Plus (FSP). FSP is the subscription channel counterpart to Fox Soccer (formerly Fox Soccer Channel and before that Fox Sports World). The cost will be $14.99 a month and FSP is available to customers of DirecTV, DISH, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, most Time-Warner and Brighthouse cable systems, Cablevision, Cox, BlueRidge, Bendbroadband, SureWest, FullChannel, Frontier, and RCN cable. The AFL was unable to come to a deal with ESPN for continued coverage on their outlets. Coverage will be two live matches per week typically (will vary occasionally) plus all finals live. The AFL Winners weekly highlight show will be available on FSP also.
AFANA will post more detailed schedules in the next few days and update all of our TV pages to reflect this change in coverage. (TV pages have been updated) Canadian TV coverage will remain on TSN2 with one live match per week. (Addendum: 03/23/12: MHz has confirmed they will continue coverage this season with games on Monday nights at 10:00 PM EDT, repeated on Saturdays at 4:00 AM EDT. Matches will be edited to 2 hrs and they will not carry the highlights programs ("AFL Winners") this season on Saturdays. Also, FSP on some Time Warner systems which offer the Sports Pass package of channels, FSP will be just $5.99 -- price may vary slightly in some areas.)
The press release from Fox Sports (in part) reads as follows:
"FOX Soccer Plus, America’s premium television network dedicated to delivering the world’s best soccer and international sports, is the new U.S. television home of the Australian Football League. With origins dating back to 1858, the AFL is Australia’s most-attended domestic sporting competition and the highest level of Australian Rules Football in the world.
This exclusive media rights agreement brings coverage of live matches to FOX Soccer Plus beginning March 24, lasting through the 2014 season. Additionally, the network is carrying the AFL’s showcase event, the Grand Final, in September live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“The Australian Football League is one of the world’s unique sporting spectacles, and Australia’s most popular domestic competition,” said David Nathanson, General Manager of FOX Soccer.
“We are proud to bring fans across the United States access to this exciting game, with rivalries and traditions that match the passion of other elite leagues on our family of networks.”
AFL Chief Operating Officer, Gillon McLachlan echoes Nathanson’s sentiment regarding this landmark partnership, “The AFL is thrilled to announce a three-year partnership with FOX Soccer Plus in the United States that will see unprecedented live coverage of our game across the Premiership Season, Finals Series and Grand Final."
Combined with FOX Soccer Plus’ recent acquisition of Australia’s National Rugby League, the AFL agreement gives fans access to the most exciting sporting properties of the Southern Hemisphere. FOX Soccer Plus’ first AFL contest takes place on Saturday, March 24 when GWS Giants host Sydney Swans (4:00 a.m. ET). Coverage continues on Friday, March 30 as Hawthorn plays Collingwood (4:30 a.m. ET).
FOX Soccer Plus is carrying two AFL matches per week throughout the season, along with weekly hour-long highlight shows to recap each round of play."
We did want to point out that there is nothing "unprecedented" about this coverage despite what is stated in the press release. More extensive live coverage was available on Setanta Sports US before it failed. AFANA recognizes that not all fans will be pleased with the coverage on FSP as it is isn't available on many cable systems. We also realize that the return to a subscription service will not please everyone. However, it was this or nothing in 2012. Coverage will continue to be available on LiveSport.tv (which has the LiveAFL.tv service).
The fate of coverage on MHz Networks is unclear.
Article last changed on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 12:44 PM EDT