Singtel Optus will begin charging existing phone and internet customers for access to the English Premier League, months after striking a multi million-dollar deal for the exclusive broadcast rights to the competition until 2028.
The move is likely to upset customers who joined Optus on the basis they could have access to the content free of charge. The telco currently allows non-phone or broadband customers to watch the EPL for a monthly fee of $14.99, and claims it has more than one million active subscribers to the Optus Sport app.
But Optus has announced it is increasing the monthly subscription fee for non-customers to $24.99 from August 1, while eligible customers will be charged for the first time at $6.99 per month.
It is Optus’ first price change since shocking the television industry by scooping up the Premier League rights from Fox Sports six years ago, but comes at a time when the cost of living is spiralling out of control for many Australians, and with the broadcast landscape – particularly when it comes to football – experiencing major fragmentation.
Those who were getting Optus Sport for free through their phone plans will now face an additional cost on top of other services they might pay for to watch the Socceroos, Matildas and A-Leagues (Paramount+, $8.99 per month), the UEFA Champions League (Stan Sport, $20 per month) or Italy’s Serie A and the Scottish Premiership (Kayo Sport, $27.99 per month). That additional cost will be nearly four times as much for those who don’t have an Optus phone.
Previously, football fans could get it all through a single Foxtel subscription.
Optus is believed to have spent as much as $600 million to extend their broadcast arrangement with the Premier League for an additional six years.
“Sports rights continue to accelerate in value, and therefore cost around the world, and obviously the investment to bring these to our customers with new product innovations is the strategy behind this,” said Clive Dickens, Optus’ vice-president of product development for TV and content.
“At $6.99 per month … that makes it a very attractively priced, premium, exclusive offering, with over 1000 games a year. We think at the base level, after six years of being free, [it] still represents very, very good value.”