Impact of Matildas’ FIFA World Cup Journey Leads to Groundbreaking Broadcasting Rights Deal
Two months after the Matildas’ intense FIFA World Cup semi-final showdown with England, which drew in over 40 percent of the Australian population as viewers, team captain Sam Kerr and her squad have already made their mark in promotional campaigns for brands such as Uber, Budgy Smuggler, Tequila Patro and Cetaphil.
Their extraordinary campaign not only enthralled the nation but also served as a catalyst for the federal government to take a more in-depth look at women’s sports, while it has also played a pivotal role in motivating Football Australia to embark on a groundbreaking endeavour.
Football Australia has signed off on broadcasting rights for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup, set for 2027 at a yet-to-be-decided location, through a strategic partnership with the global sports giant, IMG.
While the specific terms of the agreement remain confidential, the deal signed with Optus for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup was estimated to be valued between $10 million and $20 million.
According to James Johnson, the CEO of Football Australia, securing the Women’s World Cup rights would enable them to offer an exclusive access opportunity to potential broadcasters, lasting until the deal expires in 2028.
“It’s effectively the first time in history that one broadcaster or several broadcasters can own – through one access point – exclusive Matildas content for the whole cycle and exclusive Socceroos content for the whole cycle except for the Men’s World Cup”, Johnson stated.
“It’ll increase the interest in the sport through the exclusivity of the content. It’ll also help further build our revenues and ultimately get that distributed back into football, into our national teams, into the community.”
The forthcoming 2025-28 broadcast package, set to be unveiled to parties under non-disclosure agreements, will provide access to the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2026 AFC Asian Men’s Cup and the 2027 AFC Asian Women’s Cup. It will also include qualifiers and friendly matches for the Socceroos and Matildas.
Additionally, this package encompasses the AFC Asian youth tournaments and the FIFA under-20s and under-17s Women’s World Cups, scheduled for 2026 and 2028, respectively. It will also encompass the rights for an upcoming second-tier competition and opportunities for documentary series featuring the Matildas and the Socceroos.
Johnson emphasised that these rights could be held by a single broadcaster or distributed among multiple paywalled and free-to-air television networks, acknowledging the fragmented nature of football broadcast rights in Australia.
Paramount is the broadcasting partner for A-League W and A-League Men, with access to Matildas and Socceroos friendly matches and qualifiers. Stan Sport is the broadcaster for the UEFA Champions League, while World Cup broadcaster Optus boasts the Australian rights to the English Premier League and Women’s Super League, among other overseas competitions.
In the previous year, Seven served as the free-to-air broadcaster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and SBS covered the Men’s World Cup. Even Disney, which lacks sports rights, contributed by producing a documentary about the Matildas leading up to the Women’s World Cup.
Johnson explained that obtaining rights from the AFC and FIFA provides Football Australia with greater control over local sports distribution. However, he clarified that Football Australia was not engaged in the process of securing the rights for the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
The ongoing discussions involve Optus Sport, SBS and Nine Entertainment Co (the owner of Stan), as reported by sources who requested anonymity because an official deal has not yet been signed.
“The intention is to really centralise a fragmented market and make it good for the consumer and good for the broadcaster,” Johnson said.
“The Men’s World Cup was something that one day might be interesting, but we thought we were better off focusing on the Women’s World Cup.”