Adding to their current rights to live stream sporting games, Telstra have recently announced their successful bid for the rights to the women’s AFL league. The partnership will benefit both sides by increasing viewers for the sport.
Telstra will use their successful formula of sports-specific apps and free streaming for Telstra customers to boost viewership, and the AFLW benefit from an increased fan base and revenue as a result of the games being reliably live streamed. Telstra seems to be wisely capitalising on a growing trend of customers breaking away from the TV and watching on their devices.
The Benefits to the AFLW
Free live streaming is a perfect match for sports looking to increase their viewers. Niche sports and women’s sports, which have traditionally made less revenue for broadcasters and have therefore failed to attract many bids, should gain from the additional revenue and supporters created from the partnership.
Joe Pollard, Telstra’s Group Executive Media and Chief Marketing Officer, describes the strategy:
“In partnership with the AFL we are committed to growing the AFL’s elite women’s competition and as part of that commitment, making the live games available to as many fans as possible, and building this new sports streaming audience is key.”
Other app features have been carefully developed to improve user experience, in addition to live streaming. Fans of the AFLW can watch every game, but also have access to special features and behind-the-scenes information that fills in the gaps between games and between seasons.
Telstra saw a huge demand by sports fans for live streaming of their favourite sporting games in 2017, with subscribers to Telstra’s sporting apps increasing 346 per cent throughout the year, representing over 1.5 million people tuning in on a mobile device. This increase has been reflected by many platforms offering live streaming, and in Australia Telstra are one of the frontrunners for offering free live streaming of sports that traditionally have a lower viewership.
The AFLW app
Telstra does have a subscription TV service called Telstra TV, but its stand-out success has been with the approach the company takes to providing sports streaming. The model of partnering a sport-specific app with live streaming subscriptions through Telstra has been tried and tested with its NRL and AFL holdings, and is now reflected in the high-quality app for the AFLW.
The AFLW official app is separate to the AFL Live app, which allows Telstra customers and paid subscribers to watch live-streams of the men’s competition. AFLW fans can watch the games in the app, with the added bonus for Telstra customers of being able to live-stream the matches without using their data allowance.
The app will have every game played home and away, the finals series, news, and social media updates. It will feature live scores and statistics, as well as player profiles and insider looks at the AFLW. The app is designed to be a practical help for fans who are new to the game, with rules and definitions of footy terms and venue locations. Fans can personalise the app to their favourite team and has each club’s song available to learn, as well as information on how to become a member and purchase merchandise.
Telstra Sports Streaming
Netball is another popular women’s league that has been taken up by Telstra, with a Saturday night double-header also being aired on Channel Nine. Telstra will broadcast two exclusive matches on Telstra TV, simulcast two matches being shown live on Nine, and all games will be available on the “Netball Live” app. Telstra has the rights to live stream AFL and NRL games to mobile devices, available with a paid subscription or a Telstra plan. The TV rights for these codes belong elsewhere. However, ALFW and the Netball Australia games will be available on Telstra TV as well as their respective apps.
With the majority of people watching games on TV falling into an older demographic, future sports will increasingly be offered as a live stream to meet the growing demand. Telstra is already positioned ahead of this trend, and will presumably look to add to its holdings of sports streaming rights to add to its subscribers – with the flow-on effect of boosting revenue and viewership for the sporting codes they support.