Competing Australian television networks Seven and Ten have teamed to broadcast Australian Football League games from 2007 to 2011.

The A$780 million ($583m; €481m; £332m) agreement with the sport's governing body is the richest-ever such deal and comes as a blow to the Packer family-owned Nine network which also bid for the rights. Patriarch Kerry, who died just two weeks ago, was reportedly involved in the negotiations in his final days.

Seven has exercised its exclusive first and last bid rights for the increasingly popular game, known locally as 'Aussie Rules', allowing it to trump Nine's offer. The sport, played by two teams each of eighteen players, is a variant of rugby football.

Ten, majority-owned by Canadian media company CanWest Global Communications held the broadcast rights along with Nine and pay-TV group Foxtel from 2001-2006. They paid A$500 for the rights.

Analysts say the new deal could help Seven knock Nine from its number one ratings position, having narrowed the race last year helped by hit US shows such as Lost and Desperate Housewives.

However, other industry experts believe the high price tag could make the economics of the bid hard to justify, with a risk that any improvement in ratings and subsequent advertising revenues will not be enough to cover higher broadcast costs.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff