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Exclusive: SBS dumps HD coverage of A-League in cost-cutting measure

SportKevin Perry
Melbourne Victory celebrates winning the 2014-15 A-League Championship. image copyright  - Getty Images

Melbourne Victory celebrates winning the 2014-15 A-League Championship.
image copyright  - Getty Images

SBS has continue to step away from its commitment to A-League coverage with confirmation the 2015-16 season will not be shown in HD.

The decision comes a week after this website revealed SBS's decision to remove the domestic football competition from its primary channel and place the low rating Friday games on SBS2.

A spokesperson for SBS confirmed the HD decision telling this website,

 

“Fans will be able to watch matches live and free on SBS2 on Friday nights, and SBS will continue to stream all games live on The World Game website. Broadcasting this season’s A League matches in HD would come at a cost which SBS cannot sustain in the current environment.”

 

By placing A-League football on SBS2, the broadcaster intends to generate increased advertising revenue by simulcasting a more popular section of programming on the primary and HD channels

SBS gained the right to simulcast Friday night A-League matches in 2013. The competition was initially placed on SBS2 and simulcast on SBSHD as a method of re-launching that channel. Broadcast ratings for the Friday matches however were dismal with SBS left disappointed by scheduling decisions from Football Federation Australia (FFA). The following 2014-15 season was moved to the primary channel after SBS received pressure from the FFA to boost audiences.

SBS2 has the lowest viewership rating share of any Australian Free to Air channel. FFA Boss David Gallop recently expressed his disappointment with SBS's programming decision telling News Corp“We’re expecting to be on SBS2 and we’ll work hard with SBS to make it work.” he added the code remained “optimistic about our ability to have an improved year for TV ratings," despite being hidden away on SBS2.

 

Earlier this year SBS CEO & Managing Director Michael Ebeid described the 2014-2015 A-League ratings as “pretty much flat” in comparison with the past season.

 

“We put it (A-League) on SBS One in the hope it would get a good uplift, that uplift didn’t happen.” “It has meant that we have lost more on the A-League in this financial year than we did last financial year, its hurt us both in terms of audience share and ratings.”

 

Its no secret that SBS would love to exit from its current A-League broadcast deal. The network is under huge financial pressure dealing with savage budget cuts and a recent government rejection of a proposal that would have allowed for more advertising on the network.

Management at SBS spent much of the winter months trying to find a potential buyer for the code however with NRL and AFL media rights being negotiated at the same time, the commercial networks were nervous about showing support for the round ball game.

 

SBS, Foxtel and Fox Sports are now entering the 3rd year of a 4-year, $40 Million deal to broadcast the A-League competition. With the FFA hoping to double that figure to $80 Million in the next right deal, its extremely unlikely SBS will remain a broadcaster of the competition.

SBS’s coverage of the 2015-16 A-League season will commence on Friday October 9 when Adelaide United take on last season’s champions Melbourne Victory live from Adelaide Oval.

 

Socceroo and former A-League Champion David Zdrilic will host the Friday night match coverage with chief football analyst, Socceroo Craig Foster. Match commentary each week will be provided by David Basheer and former English Premier League star Michael Bridges. Reporter Lucy Zelic will be pitch side at each match with player and coach interviews as well as updates throughout the night.

Following the Friday match, viewers can also catch up with David, Craig and Lucy on The World Game (Sundays, 1pm on SBS) as they discuss the week’s A-League news and matches.

  

SBS 2 Broadcast schedule:

Round 1:

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory

7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 9 October on SBS 2

   

Round 2:

Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers

7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 16 October on SBS 2

 

Round 3:

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 23 October on SBS 2

  

Round 4:

Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets

 7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 30 October on SBS 2

 

Round 5:

Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar

7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 6 November on SBS 2

  

Round 6:

Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers

7:30pm (AEDT) Friday 6 November on SBS 2

 

 

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