The AFL has finally officially announced a mammoth 5-year broadcast rights deal worth $1.25 billion, with a split of content across Channel Seven, Foxtel, and Telstra.

The Seven Network comes out big winners, scoring broadcast rights to four games per week and all finals nationally.

But the real winners are footy lovers with Foxtel, with every home and away and finals game (excluding grand final) broadcast live on the subscription network without advertisements. The Fox Footy Channel will also be resurrected.

Seven have not yet announced an intention to sell any of their games to other networks. Channel Ten is the likely first candidate in line for any offloaded games.

Digital broadcast is a major part of the three­–way, share the love deal, with Telstra jumping in to broadcast all matches to phones and tablets using the NextG network,

Tim Renowden, Analyst at research firm Ovum, thinks Telstra is in a good position to deliver digital rights and have made a wise move with the buy.

“Telstra will be pleased to have secured access to this premium live sport content,” Renowden says, “which provides a strong drawcard for the company’s broadband and subscription video services, although some fans will be disappointed that streaming access is limited to Telstra customers.”

Renowden also thinks the AFL coverage won’t come for free, even for Telstra customers.

“Pricing has yet to be determined,” he says, “but live games are expected to be treated as premium content and priced as additional packages above basic access.

Telstra will also use the AFL as part of its incursion into television, with one live match streamed through the new T-Box set top box, and on-demand replays of all matches. Footyheads who sign up to the impending Foxtel on T-Box Internet TV service will have all matches available for live viewing as well.

What do you think? Through television history, massive sports rights deals have rarely paid for themselves, but have instead served as a foundation for networks to promote other programming (note the revival of Channel Seven). Could this digital rights deal get people thinking about Telstra and its many products again? Would you pay to watch live sports on a phone screen? Drop a comment below or connect with us on twitter via @Marketingmag.