Fox Soccer Plus to Air Australian Football League

By Community | March 15, 2012

FOX Soccer Plus, store America’s premium television network dedicated to delivering the world’s best soccer and international sports, is the new U.S. television home of the Australian Football League (AFL).

With origins dating back to 1858, the AFL is Australia’s most-attended domestic sporting competition and the highest level of Australian Rules Football in the world. 

This exclusive media rights agreement brings coverage of live matches to FOX Soccer Plus beginning March 24, lasting through the 2014 season. Additionally, the network is carrying the AFL’s showcase event, the Grand Final, in September live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“The Australian Football League is one of the world’s unique sporting spectacles, and Australia’s most popular domestic competition,” said David Nathanson, General Manager of FOX Soccer. 

“We are proud to bring fans across the United States access to this exciting game, with rivalries and traditions that match the passion of other elite leagues on our family of networks.”

AFL Chief Operating Officer, Gillon McLachlan said: “The AFL is thrilled to announce a three-year partnership with FOX Soccer Plus in the United States that will see unprecedented live coverage of our game across the Premiership Season, Finals Series and Grand Final.”

Combined with FOX Soccer Plus’ recent acquisition of Australia’s National Rugby League, the AFL agreement gives fans access to the most exciting sporting properties of the Southern Hemisphere. FOX Soccer Plus’ first AFL contest takes place on Saturday, March 24 when GWS Giants host Sydney Swans (4:00 a.m. ET). Coverage continues on Friday, March 30 as Hawthorn plays Collingwood (4:30 a.m. ET).

FOX Soccer Plus is carrying two AFL matches per week throughout the season, along with weekly hour-long highlight shows to recap each round of play.

Comprised of clubs from five Australian states, the AFL features 18 teams in 2012, as Greater Western Sydney Football Club begins play in the topflight. Starting in late March, the AFL season lasts for 23 rounds and culminates in an eight-team playoff that determines the two Grand Final participants. This contest is Australia’s most-anticipated annual sporting event, with the winner claiming the AFL Premiership.

A fast-paced and physically imposing game, Australian Football is unique to the sporting landscape of the Southern Hemisphere. Each side is composed of 22 players, with 18 individuals permitted on the playing field at any given time. Players are divided into three groups – forwards, midfielders and defenders – with a heavy emphasis on kicking for field position and points. 

Tackling is also an essential skill, as the AFL is known for its physical style. Players compete on an elliptical-shaped field over four thirty-minute quarters, with stoppage time added at the end of each interval.

by Ismail Uddin