The Melbourne Cup claims to stop the nation. The Matildas World Cup quarter-final against France on Saturday night really did. It was Australia’s most watched sporting event in almost 20 years, and Wednesday night’s semi-final may even get close to the record – Cathy Freeman’s 400-metre gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
This team is so hot politicians are now squabbling about whether to declare a public holiday if they win the final. It’s an outcome Football Australia chief James Johnson, who is looking for new investment in the game, is relishing.
From a commercial perspective, how fitting are the colours green and gold?
The Matildas have become an extremely valuable brand. For the World Cup’s free-to-air media broadcaster, Seven, the digital streaming partner Optus, and to a lesser extent the team’s main sponsor, Commonwealth Bank, taking a punt on the popularity of this tournament has been a bonanza.
We know that more than 7 million people watched all or part of Saturday night’s quarter-final against France, and that hundreds of thousands piled into other special-purpose venues and pubs and clubs to watch the game. Optus doesn’t provide its numbers but said World Cup games featured in the top five most-watched Optus Sport football matches and received 42 million social video views in Australia during the first four weeks of the competition.
It is fair to say that none of the media partners and sponsors could have dreamed when they signed up their respective deals of the extent to which this team would have captured the imagination – and the eyeballs – of the country.
The success of the Matildas and the Socceroos has catapulted them to national brands.
It is now Football Australia’s time to turn the screw for future broadcast rights as it heads into negotiations. The success of the Matildas and the Socceroos has catapulted them to national brands.
In what looks like the steal of the decade, Optus reportedly paid an estimated $20 million to broadcast all 64 Women’s World Cup finals matches and sub-licenced 15 matches to Seven for $4 million.
The Australian media rights for the event in four years’ time will not necessarily balloon significantly, given the next tournament will likely be held outside Australia’s time zone.
But having it played in Australia and New Zealand this time has elevated the sport to a new level.
Clive Dickens, vice president of television, content and product development at Optus, correctly opined that: “The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has changed the sporting landscape in Australia, forever.”
It has certainly provided a huge boost to Football Australia, which manages the broadcast, sponsorship rights and merchandising for Matildas and their male counterparts the Socceroos friendly internationals and World Cup qualifying games.
Football Australia’s media partner Paramount/Ten paid $100 million for broadcasting the non-World Cup games, but this amount will be superseded when it comes up for renegotiation at the end of next year, with expectations Seven and Nine will become involved.
Until now, the free-to-air television operators have focused their attention and their balance sheets on securing one of the two major football codes, AFL and rugby league, and the two major summer sports, tennis and cricket.
But the Matildas’ popularity through the World Cup has garnered viewer numbers never seen before, surpassing TV audience numbers for NRL and AFL grand finals and State of Origin.
The Matildas’ numbers are more akin to moments such as Cathy Freeman’s Sydney 2000 Olympics run or Ash Barty winning the Australian Open in 2022.
The value of Football Australia’s broadcast rights is difficult to compare to rugby league and AFL.
The biggest Matildas and Socceroos games are huge viewing events, but there is a lot more weekly content contained in packaging up NRL and AFL.
Johnson says he expects a record-breaking investment in the game with the coming broadcasting rights deal. He believes the Socceroos and the Matildas are bringing in the numbers – and the dollars should follow.
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Source: Thanks smh.com