Australian Rules football has secured the biggest sports rights deal in Australian television history, a Rupert Murdoch-backed Aus$2.5 billion (US1.8 billion) agreement which will be a huge boost for the popular domestic code.
The six-year deal, struck late Tuesday, will see Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra continue as the sport's broadcasters from 2017 until 2022.
The agreement comes barely a week after the National Rugby League announced a Aus$925 million free-to-air television deal with Channel Nine which it said helped secure the long-term financial future of the game.
A pay TV deal for the NRL has yet to be signed, with Murdoch's half-owned pay TV broadcaster, Foxtel, in negotiations.
Under the AFL deal, Foxtel will broadcast every match live, while Channel Seven gets three matches live each round, in high-definition, as well as coverage of the grand final.
Telstra retains the digital rights.
AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the new deal would help the league expand its reach over the next decade.
"We need to continue to be the first choice for our elite and talented athletes, we need to strengthen our clubs at all levels, and we need to invest in the community level of our game," he said.
"This agreement with News Corporation, the Seven Network and Telstra will allow us to make the right investment to keep our game strong."
Murdoch said it was a good investment for Foxtel, calling Aussie Rules Australia's "national game".
"This is a very significant investment for us. We've always believed that this is the premium code in Australia -– it's the national game," the mogul said.
"We're very happy to be doing this. We believe in the strength of the game and we'll do everything we can to make it stronger."