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Aussie Rules Football Returns To ESPN Roots

Australian Rules Football, an ESPN programming staple of the 1980s before it began acquiring high-profile domestic sports, is resurfacing on the network.

The parties have tackled a deal under which the programmer will air matches through 2011, notably the Toyota AFL Grand Final, in the U.S. and Canada, where TSN ot TSN2 will show at least one live or tape-delayed match weekly.

Stateside, the matches will be available on broadband service, with select contests slated for ESPN2, kicking off Aug. 7.

The 2009 Grand Final will be televised live on ESPN2 on Sept. 26 from the Melbourne Cricket grounds.

"AFL presents a great opportunity for us as a company and is in line with our commitment to covering the world sports scene through our media platforms," said Tim Bunnell, senior vice president of programming, ESPN International, in a statement. "The AFL and ESPN have a long relationship, stretching back to the early years of our company. We look forward to bringing the excitement and passion of Australian football back to fans in North America."