The future of football broadcasting belongs to OTT streaming services and Australia would be foolish not to explore this option, says Golden Generation co-founder Craig Moore.
As the 15-year marriage between Football Federation Australia and Fox Sports is heading for a nasty divorce, the newly formed advocacy group has called for the governing body to take matters into its own hands and form a streaming service to deliver the A-League, W-League and its representative matches via a streaming service.
The ‘FFA TV’ idea that was mooted by a group of nine former Socceroos heroes and three advisors as part of a grand plan to make the game independent of a broadcaster’s control.
The group says that there has never been a better time for Australian football to unite, be brave and take control of its own destiny.
“At the moment we have a mainstream broadcaster that is in total control of all the decisions within our football,” Moore said.
“They decide what days we play, what time we play, and what time of the year - but are those decisions best for football?
“Other countries have jumped onto the streaming side of their business three years ago. It’s the way to go.
“If the future is going to be with Fox and the game is rewarded financially that’s fantastic but if it is not the case, there are other domestic and international options out there that can shoulder the responsibility of growing the game.
“It’s all about creating a platform whereby the FFA, (a) buys the content from a provider and sells off the marquee matches like the Sydney derby, for example, to Channel 9 or Channel 7 and (b) brings advertising and corporate sponsorship to the table - from local to national and international level.”
Moore cited several providers who have shown interest in Australian football such as DAZN, Dugout, Grabyo as well as local players LIGR and Optus.
A special report by the Pay-TV Innovation Forum revealed a strong trend towards streaming services at a time of unprecedented change win the sports broadcasting industry.
The supply of sports content is expanding significantly, as OTT services proliferate, potentially reducing demand for pay-TV.
This is due to the availability of high-quality broadband and the growth in multi-platform and device viewing, the report reads.
Six of the world’s 10 richest sports leagues and federations have launched premium OTT services to drive fan engagement and revenues.
They are the NFL, MLB, NBA, Premier League, NHL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, UEFA Champions League and Formula One.
From a football perspective, it is also worth noting that nine of the top 25 clubs in the world offer an OTT service at very reasonable prices.
Among them are heavyweights Manchester United, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Moore added that having control of its fortunes via a television service is not the only challenge facing Australian football.
Streamlining the game is also a prime objective of the independent group which is in regular contact with FFA chief executive James Johnson.
“We believe that our game is not the picture of doom and gloom that has been painted and we as a football community have never had a better opportunity to be able to make some really positive changes that would put the game in a better place - 10, 30 and 50 years down the line,” Moore said.
”There is some work to be done through the member federations, and there is no reason a streamlined structure could not create more money to the game by reducing administration fees and positions.
“With the level of technology that is available nowadays things can be streamlined and a saving for the game can be made.
“Every member of football is paying too much so the money saved by streamlining the game can go toward junior playing fees, for example.
“The money within the game is there but it needs to be re-distributed in a better way.
“It also can be invested in a platform that brings the whole of football together. All of a sudden you have your own platform from which to make decisions designed to grow the game.
“We’re not saying we don’t need state federations because the member federations play a large role in player participation at grassroots level. Our point is streamlining the federations would create a huge saving for the game.
“For example, we advocate aligning the seasons of all levels of our game which means the A-League becomes a winter competition. But if Fox remain as main broadcasters that will never happen because it does not fit their schedule.
“When you unite the game, everything become easier and the importance of aligning the seasons is pivotal.”