New laws leave millions of Aussies missing out on ‘free’ sport

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

New research has revealed that millions of Aussies using the internet to tune into TV will have their sporting coverage cancelled if proposed laws go through. 

The government’s latest anti-siphoning bill has set out to block subscription streaming service giants like Amazon, Apple and Disney from buying up exclusive broadcasting rights to iconic sporting events like the country’s favourite sporting events, like the Olympics, AFL, NRL and cricket.

But a loophole means that these trillion-dollar companies can still place bids for exclusive digital streaming rights, locking out the vast majority of Aussies who watch free sport on stations like 7plus, 9Now and 10 Play.

According to national polling by research agency Resolve Strategic this would leave the 69 per cent of the country (almost 18 million people) that use the internet to stream sports forced to fork out money to flick on the footy. 

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair called the current laws anti-Australian, claiming they deprived the average household access to the country’s beloved national pastime. 

“This research shows that most Australians are watching TV through the internet and this proportion will only increase as more people ditch their old-fashioned aerials and new homes are built without them,” said Fair.

“New anti-siphoning laws must be updated to reflect this reality otherwise millions will be forced to buy expensive streaming subscriptions during a cost-of-living crisis or miss out altogether on the great sporting events that bind our nation together.

“All Australians deserve access to sport, regardless of their income or whether they have an antenna on their home.”

Cricket fans have already seen the rights for Australia’s World Test Chmpionship and ODI World Cup defences snatched up by Amazon Prime last year, with the deal locking 448 games behind a paywall over the next four years. 

Previously, those rights were mixed, with Nine reponsible for showing games that involved the Aussie team while Foxtel/Kayo broadcasted the rest of the ICC matches. 

Will people pay?

In true stubborn Aussie fashion, around half (49 per cent) of people surveyed who switch on channels like 9Now and 7Plus to watch sport would rather send a big middle finger to streaming giants and miss out on the events altogether instead of signing up for a subscription. 

Seventeen per cent said they would reconnect their aerial (if they even had one) and only 9 per cent would actually cough up the extra cash. 

Unsuprsingly, Free TV Australia, which represents free-to-air broadcasters including Seven, Nine and Ten, found that extending the rules to apply to streaming rights would be extremely popular amongst viewers. 

“The Australian public clearly values access to free sport and supports politicians who act to protect it,” said Ms Fair.

“While the intent of the anti-siphoning bill is good, its current form does not guarantee the availability of free sporting coverage for those who are reliant on the internet for their free TV.

“This major oversight must be fixed to protect the free universal access to sport for every Australian.”

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.