Australian pay-television subscribers will be able to receive the most comprehensive television coverage in the history of the Commonwealth Games when they take place in Melbourne.

The extended coverage will be provided through Fox Sports, which has secured the exclusive subscription television rights to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Seven channels will be available to digital subscribers on Foxtel, Austar and Optus TV as part of a special Fox Sports pay-per-view subscription package. The package will cost AU$49.95 for viewers that book in advance, in addition to normal monthly subscription rates.

More than 1180 hours of coverage will be broadcast across the seven digital channels during the Games. A special Gold channel will feature continuous coverage with the emphasis on gold medal events and key highlights of each day.

An interactive application will also provide digital subscribers with an additional multi-view channel, where each of the available channels can be viewed, along with an updating medal tally.

The coverage starts with replays of the Opening Ceremony on the evening of Wednesday March 15, running through until Tuesday March 28.

“I’m delighted to welcome Fox Sports and subscription television to the Melbourne 2006 family in a history-making deal that will bring the Games to even more Australians,” said games chairman Ron Walker.

The coverage will considerably exceed that available to Australian viewers for previous games.

“Total television coverage in Australia of the Manchester Games in 2002 amounted to approximately 230 hours on free-to-air television, while live coverage of the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998 saw approximately 130 hours broadcast,” said David Malone, the chief executive of Fox Sports.

In 2002, the BBC provided UK viewers with extensive free coverage of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. This offered over 1,000 hours of additional coverage through an interactive service, the first time such an approach was taken to a major multi-sport event.