June 18, 2020 / 7:02 AM / 21 days ago

Fox Sports 'reviewing' content as A-League waits on deal

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian broadcaster Fox Sports says it is “reviewing” its domestic soccer content, with Football Federation Australia hoping a rights deal can be struck before the return of the suspended A-League next month.

News Corp-owned Fox Sports is midway through a A$57 million ($39 million) per year deal to screen the A-League, women’s W-League and other domestic soccer content but local media have reported it is seeking to renegotiate the terms of the deal in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.

Fairfax Media said replays of A-League matches, highlights and features were dropped from Fox Sports’ programming on various platforms on Wednesday.

“With no live football content, we are currently reviewing our Australian football offering,” a Fox Sports spokesman told Reuters on Thursday.

Revenues from the broadcaster have propped up domestic soccer in Australia since the A-League’s launch in 2005 but viewership has dwindled in recent years.

FFA’s Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said earlier this week negotiations with the broadcaster were “progressing fairly well”.

“We feel positive about ... the ability to have Fox broadcast the finish to the season, and also be a partner going forward,” he said.

Fox Sports is broadcasting the restarted National Rugby League and Australian Football League seasons, and will screen the “Super Rugby AU” competition when it starts July 3.

However, it has declined to confirm it will resume broadcasting the A-League when it restarts on July 16.

Fox Sports said it would not comment on commercial matters but was still “in discussion” with the FFA regarding the A-League’s resumption.

Embattled Pay TV provider Foxtel, which merged with Fox Sports in 2018, said last year it would move to reduce spending on “non-marquee sporting content” amid declining earnings.

Foxtel and Fox Sports have announced several rounds of redundancies in recent months with the coronavirus shutdown wiping out live sport.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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