Former Socceroos great Craig Moore says streaming the A-League needs to be urgently considered as the clock ticks on the competition's return.
With COVID-19 restrictions slowly being eased across Australia’s states and territories, the A-League season 2019/20 is due to resume next month.
A blockbuster Melbourne derby between Victory and Western on July 16 is set for AAMI Park with fans thirsting for A-League once more.
However, alarmingly, A-League broadcast arrangements still remain unclear with FFA and current broadcaster Fox Sports yet to sign off on a deal.
This opens up the possibility of FFA looking for a direct to consumer (D2C) OTT solution by owning and streaming its own A-League content.
A-League, FFA Cup, W-League, or other grassroots content could be part of a broader broadcast solution that encompasses the entire game.
Moore, one of the most respected former Socceroos from the Golden Generation, says an OTT D2C streaming model plays on the game’s biggest strengths.
And it needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency given the current situation with Fox Sports and the A-League.
“In Australia, it seems they don’t see football as tier 1,” Moore said of the current Foxtel/Fox Sports arrangements in a statement today.
“As we always say, they’re entitled to their opinion, but they are wrong.
"We are not a tier 2 sport.
“We offer competition – or ‘content’ - from grassroots to elite, from local to national and international, from age 5 to adult, men and women.
“We’re saying to the FFA and A-League clubs that it’s time to be bold and not be stuck in 20th-century thinking or broadcast models.”
FFA TV is a brand that’s been used by the national governing body to produce broadcast-quality video content primarily for the Socceroos and Matildas sites and for other media to use.
However, the model of streaming the A-League direct from FFA channels to the football family of fans hasn't been looked at seriously. Till now.
Particularly, says Moore, if the channel was part of a bundled package with player registrations.
“In some states, for every little kid who plays, more than $100 of their registration fee is split between their local Association, their state federation, and FFA.
"We’d like to see them get something in return,” Moore added.
Moore and other members of the Socceroos’ Golden Generation claim there is interest from some big OTT players internationally.
And the A-League could benefit.
Cluch, DAZN, Dugout, Grabyo, Eleven Sports, Pixellot, Singular.Live and Spalk TV are all said to be in the mix for the A-League stream.
“These organizations have the technology and know-how.
"They’re not starting from scratch because they’re already doing it in sport elsewhere,” Moore said.
Dugout works with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona, Juventus, and Liverpool and has partnerships around the world.
“The OTT market is getting bigger every day and we see the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV+, as well as legacy companies such as Disney and Warner, all investing in OTT capability,” he added.
Local companies such as LIGR.live (a graphics provider that’s already working with NPLs across Australia) and Telco Optus are also said to be waiting in the wings should a streaming option for the A-League be greenlit.
“The idea of ‘FFA TV’ may be a disruptor locally, but it’s not internationally,” Moore added.