A deal with the Australian Football League will see live television coverage of the AFL Premiership in the UK and Republic of Ireland, Canada, and sub-saharan Africa.
The deal will run for the next three seasons, including the current season. ESPN will bring viewers in these territories extensive coverage of the league, which attracts the highest in-stadia attendances of all sports leagues in Australia and has the third highest average attendance of any sports league in the world.
Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President TV Channels, ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa, says of the deal, “We’re delighted to continue our collaboration with the AFL and bring the thrilling sport of Aussie Rules to millions. Broadcasting Australian Rules Football demonstrates the range and depth of content we strive to offer ESPN viewers and is a great addition to our live sport line-up in each of these territories.”
At least one live match per week will be aired on ESPN channels throughout the season across all these territories. The 23-round regular season is played between March and August, followed by the Finals Series, where the top teams play off for the right to make the Grand Final. The live TV telecast of the Grand Final itself will also be exclusively on ESPN channels. In addition, fans will be able to keep up to date with all the action during each round with a dedicated weekly TV highlights show.
The 2012 AFL season follows on from a 2011 season that saw Geelong lift the Premiership Cup after a 38-point victory over Collingwood at the MCG in Melbourne. The league welcomes a new team this year, Greater Western Sydney.
Gillon McLachlan, AFL Chief Operating Officer, stated “The AFL is delighted to announce a new three-year agreement with ESPN. The AFL and ESPN have built a wonderful partnership over the last three years and we are thrilled to have our code broadcast on such an esteemed network throughout many territories worldwide. I wish to thank ESPN for their ongoing commitment to AFL internationally.”
Additionally, ESPN has secured co-exclusive live television rights in the Caribbean and Israel with AFL.