The fight for the next AFL streaming rights is officially over with Channel Seven confirming it will remain the home of Australian Rules football until at least the end of 2031.

Seven West Media has inked the historic deal to retain the broadcast rights that will keep the AFL live on free-to-air television, and also include an expanded digital offering.

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Under the new deal, the 7Plus AFL hub will have live matches and replays, as well as catch-up rights and on-demand highlights packages (available live and free on any device at any time).

It was a fierce battle for the AFL rights with Network Ten and streaming partner Paramount Plus, Nine Entertainment and streaming partner Stan, and the existing arrangement of Seven and Foxtel all making strong pitches.

Sydney coach John Longmire talks to Seven’s Jude Bolton in August. Credit: Brett Hemmings/AFL Photos via Getty Images

On Monday it was reported that Nine had upped the ante with an offer of close to $500 million a year.

But that offer was quickly bowled over by Seven West Media and Foxtel with a superior pitch that was pounced upon by the AFL.

On Saturday night during the thrilling final between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs in Perth, Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan were spotted together enjoying the game.

Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes and AFL boss Gillon McLachlan enjoy the footy in Western Australia on Saturday night. Credit: Screenshot

In a statement, SWM managing director and chief executive James Warburton said he was “delighted” to have secured the extension in the face of rival bids from other broadcasters.

“Securing a comprehensive package of digital rights to the AFL for 7plus was our absolute focus,” Warburton said.

“For the first time, fans will be able to access the best AFL games and video content, live and free, in a way that suits them.

“More importantly, this new combination of broadcast and digital means SWM will be ideally positioned to drive and capture a significant share of the growing total television market.

“Together, the AFL and Seven have made the code the number one winter sport across the country and we look forward to working with the AFL Commission to extend the sport’s leadership.”

Simon Goodwin and Max Gawn hold up the 2021 premiership trophy at Optus Stadium. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images

AFL chairman Richard Goyder said it was a “great day for Australian football” and the new deal would help the League to invest in the game, particularly at the grassroots level.

McLachlan said the deal would also help continue to make the game affordable and keep ticket prices down.

McLachlan said Thursday night and Friday night games would be live and free on Seven, and all marquis matches would also be live and free, including the Anzac Day game, Dreamtime at the ‘G, the finals and the grand final.

“You’ve all been incredible partners,” McLachlan said.

Mr Stokes said he was excited to continue the relationship with the AFL and now every city had access to free-to-air football.

He said one of the reasons the partnership between Seven and the AFL had been so successful was due to the shared love of the game.

Seven has been AFL’s free-to-air broadcast partner for practically every year of the competition.

More to come …

Cats win thrilling final against Magpies.

Cats win thrilling final against Magpies.