Football's universal appeal, the 2023 Women's World Cup broadcast rights, and the fact that national teams and the domestic leagues will be sold separately all mean Australian football fans face a uniquely difficult prospect of a 'home' for Australian football content.

Negotiations for A-League and W-League broadcast rights are being led by the clubs under the Australian Professional Leagues banner, while Socceroos and Matildas broadcast rights will be sold by FA. 

FA boss James Johnson has already said that broadcasting the domestic league and national teams separately has worked in other countries.

Nine reports say that Australian free-to-air broadcaster Channel 10 and its upcoming sports streaming arm, Paramount+, is emerging as favourite for A-League, W-League broadcast rights.

Channel 10 is owned by US broadcasting giants ViacomCBS, which plans to launch its own digital streaming provider called Paramount+ in Australia in August this year.

Paramount, which is a rebranding effort on behalf of Channel 10 and CBS, will join an already jampacked Australian streaming market that continues to grow in options, but also segregation.

Paramount already joins Netflix, Stan, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Foxtel Now and Kayo and Apple TV Plus. These are just the primary services on offer, with dozens more minor players, especially in football broadcasting.

Paramount+ has the rights to show the UEFA Champions League in the USA, but Australian broadcast rights for the competition next season are far less clear.

New Sydney-based streaming service Sports Flick originally won the rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League, but it's uncertain whether those rights will go ahead.

According to Nine publication The Sydney Morning Herald, which has also submitted a bid for the rights through its streaming service Stan, Channel 10 and Paramount are emerging as favourites to win broadcast rights.

Stan has already garnered huge success with its rugby broadcasting rights, with AFR reporting that the 2021 Super Rugby final drew a 232% increase in viewership on Nine's platforms compared to the previous year's final.

Nine also currently has the rights for the Australian Open, Wimbledon and French Open, among other sporting events.

Paramount+ is reportedly keen to offer big money to secure the rights given the relative lack of local content they're likely to launch with in Australia.

The streaming service will have the rights to content from US networks Showtime, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Television and Paramount Pictures.

However, in a sign of the potential downsides of media's shift towards digital streaming, some Australian free to air content is likely to become paid.

Paramount+ will reportedly be repurposing previously free Australian content that showed on Channel 10 to premiere on its paid streaming service instead, according to The New Daily.

It's becoming more likely that A-League and W-League broadcast rights will now be held separately to Socceroos and Matildas broadcast rights, with Amazon Prime now a leading candidate to show the 2023 Women's World Cup. 

This scenario would present a significant hurdle for Australian fans who have become accustomed to being able to watch AFC Champions League, Socceroos, Matildas, W-League and A-League games on Fox Sports and Kayo.

In a worst case scenario for budgeting Australian football fans, A-League and W-League games could be shown on Paramount+ for around $9 per month.

Socceroos and Matildas matches could be shown on Stan or Kayo for between $20 and $25 per month. 2022 and 2023 World Cup matches could be shown on Amazon Prime for $7 per month. 

AFC Champions League games could also potentially be shown separately to those matches, while BeIN Sports and Optus Sport show another smattering of foreign leagues and competitions each.

Given the fractured nature of Australian football, combined with record low matchday attendances and television ratings, anything but a united front may spell trouble for the sport.

However, on the flip side, it also presents an opportunity for FA to secure its balance sheet in the short to medium term, as the game struggles to recoup losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.