RIP AFL on Ten, but hello V8s, NRL?
It’s official. After a decade, Channel Ten will walk away from AFL at the conclusion of season 2011.
This isn’t as surprising in itself, as it is for the notion that viewers will no longer be subjected to the innovative, yet despised, final quarter five-minute warning.
Unless, of course, Seven hires a mass of staff from Ten, and implement this tool on their own, exclusive coverage from next season.
Ten pioneered this during their first season of AFL in 2002, and whilst it certainly left viewers on the edge of their seats, many said that they preferred to know exactly how much time was on the clock.
The most notorious instances include the 2002, 2005, 2006 Grand Finals, which were broadcast on Ten, each decided by single-figures (nine, four and one points) respectively, with the ’09 decider only ballooning to twelve points after the siren.
But it has to be said that apart from this minor blemish, which you could even argue is hardly a blemish, Channel Ten have been wonderful custodians of the great game.
Saturdays won’t be quite the same after this season.
Fans keeping their boxes tuned to Ten from the afternoon through to night, with the entertainment of Before the Game in between matches keeping viewers switched on, have only three more months of this arrangement to look forward to.
Then, we better get used to dialling in ’7′ on remotes for the duration of the weekend for our fix of footy, with Seven now almost certainly the sole custodians of AFL on free-to-air, unless Nine buys in, which is increasingly unlikely.
But we can’t forget, this isn’t the first time that Seven has been in this position. Before 2002, they held exclusive rights to the game for a long, long time.
It will just be odd re-acclimatising, to having the single network screening AFL for the first time in a decade.
And hopefully Seven can brush up a little to the standard we’ve become accustomed with Ten.
Ten’s metioned set-up on Saturdays, is a winner. One would hope that Seven simply adopts their schedule, perhaps even incorporating some of the faces (just not Robert Walls!) we’ve come to know on Ten, into their coverage.
And with live football now a stipulation of the coverage, you’d hope we’ll no longer be subjected to Seven’s four-minute ad breaks between goals (Sunday afternoon football!).
The silver lining of this decision for Ten, is that it opens the door to re-acquire coverage of the ever-expanding V8 Supercars.
They will have a huge hole to fill on Saturday afternoons, which Seven will take care of, so you’d assume that unless the latter wants to show V8s at 2am, or on a secondary channel such as 7mate, which isn’t yet universally accepted, they may have to part with the series.
This means that Ten has a year to cool their heels in 2012, and to position itself well and truly to re-assume the mantle “home of motorsport”, the missing piece being V8 Supercars, from 2013.
And what’s more, Ten has been putting feelers out in recent weeks about their desire to re-enter the NRL fold, having last held the rights in the mid-1990s.
NRL has boomed in popularity on television in recent seasons, so you can’t help but feel that Ten may just be on a winner in sacrificing AFL to buy a slice of NRL alongside V8 Supercars.
At least AFL season 2011 is still far from over, and we have the best part of half a season, plus finals, including the Grand Final in glorious HD one last time, before Ten moves on.
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