Research reveals millions will be forced to pay to watch sport under proposed anti-siphoning law reforms

Headshot of Remy Varga
Remy Varga
The Nightly
More than two-thirds of Australians are now watching television digitally, with research sparking warnings that proposed laws will rob millions of punters of the opportunity to watch sport for free.

More than two-thirds of Australians watch television on digital platforms, with new research sparking warnings that proposed anti-siphoning laws will rob millions of the opportunity to watch sport for free.

New research by Resolve Strategic has found that 69 per cent of Australians support extending anti-siphoning laws to digital services, with less than a third of people watching television exclusively via an aerial.

The polling commissioned by Free TV found about half of Australians watch sport on free-to-air streaming services such as 7plus and 10 Play would miss out on watching sport under the proposal.

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Chief executive officer Bridget Fair said sports fans would be forced to buy streaming subscriptions if proposed anti-siphoning law reforms were not expanded to include digital services.

“This research shows that most Australians are watching TV through the internet and this proportion will only increase as more people either ditch their aerials and new homes are built without them,” she said.

“New anti-siphoning laws must be updated to reflect this reality otherwise millions will be forced to buy expensive streaming subscriptions during a cost-of-living crisis or miss out altogether on the great sporting events that bind our nation together.”

Free TV has calculated that the average Aussies could be slugged anywhere from $84.95 to $151.95 per month to access the sport they love if the law reforms are not expanded.

Anti-siphoning laws prevent subscription television from gaining the rights to events before free-to-air television but streaming services are currently not covered.

Proposed reforms would stop streaming services such as Amazon and Disney from purchasing exclusive television broadcast rights to sporting events such as the Olympics but not from purchasing exclusive digital rights.

The Resolve Strategic polling found about a third of voters would be more likely to vote for a party that extended anti-siphoning laws to streaming services.

Ms Fair said not covering streaming services was a regulatory oversight and said Australians deserved free access to major sporting events.

“The Australian public clearly values access to free sport and supports politicians who act to protect it,” she said.

“While the intent of the anti-siphoning bill is good, its current form does not guarantee the availability of free sporting coverage for those who are reliant on the internet for their free TV.

“This major oversight must be fixed to protect the free universal access to sport for every Australian.”

Free TV has launched the Keep Sport Free campaign in a bid to ensure Australians can continue watching major sporting events for free.

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