Acclaimed Australian Football commentator, Simon Hill has confirmed he is parting ways with Fox Sports.
Hill released a statement on social media confirming his role as Chief Football commentator at Fox Sports would come to an end when his contract expires on 30 June. Hill has been a critical part of the Fox Sports line-up since 2006 and has been the voice of many memorable moments in Australian football history.
Hill declined to elaborate on his departure when contacted by TV Blackbox, but in the social media statement he thanked fans for their support:
“Just letting you know I will not be returning to your screens once the A-League season resumes next month.
My contract at Fox Sports ends on Tuesday. While I will miss bringing the A-League and other football to you, it nevertheless gives me a chance to pursue other opportunities, on which I’ll hopefully have more news shortly.
In the meantime, I have enormous confidence in the game and its potential in Australia.
Thanks to all my colleagues and the players, coaches and officials I’ve had the pleasure to meet – but most of all, thanks to all of you for listening to me down the years and for giving me a million brilliant memories.”
TV Blackbox understands the decision was made by Fox Sports to part way with Hill due to ongoing budget issues. 2020 has seen a steady exodus of staff as the pay-tv broadcaster looks to slash production costs across all aspects of the business.
The departure of Hill comes just a week after Fox Sports renegotiated its broadcast agreement with Football Federation Australia (FFA).
The restructured deal will see Fox Sports continue broadcasting remaining matches of the current A-League season when it resumes next month, along with 2020/21 A-League and W-League seasons.
Fox Sports will also broadcast Australia’s final four FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, along with Socceroos and Matildas friendly international matches up until 31 July 2021.
TV Blackbox understands Fox Sports is paying $25 million in cash and $7 million in contra to retain the football rights. Figures that are down considerably on the previous arrangement which committed Foxtel to $57 million per season until 2023.
When A-League returns on July 16, Fox Sports will feature a commentary line-up of Adam Peacock, Robbie Slater, Tara Rushton, Archie Thompson, Brenton Speed, Mark Bosnich and Andy Harper to present and commentate all matches from a central studio.
The decision to call matches from a central hub due to COVID-19 restrictions has allowed Fox Sports to reduce its commentary line-up.
Audience ratings for A-League matches have been in steady decline falling by around 25% in each of the past two seasons and a further 26% after 23 rounds of the 2019/20 season.
The domestic football code reached a low point of just 8,000 viewers for the Round 16 clash between the Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets.