TV Rights: ARL Commission misses on innovation
103 Have your say
Today’s $1.025 billion TV rights deal is being trumpeted as great news for the code but I believe the newly formed NRL Commission has failed its fan base.
By granting the five year deal jointly to Fox Sports and Channel Nine, the Commission has blown the chance to inject a breath of fresh air into the way the game is covered around the nation.
Both networks do a ‘solid’ job with their respective footy coverage but today’s announcement means that the innovation ship has sailed, leaving Fox and Nine in a holding pattern offering an almost identical product that has left many fans either dissatisfied or angry.
At this stage, I don’t know details of the Channel Seven and Network Ten bids but you can bet a boot full of Steedens they would have offered a fresh new approach to the way league is aired around Australia and many fans would have welcomed a different batch of expert commentator.
While Nine’s camera coverage is second to none, there is a growing sense of staleness about Nine’s commentary team which has created considerable angst from viewers.
We hear that veteran caller Ray Warren is likely to retire from the box at season’s end which may (or may not) help Nine’s coverage for 2013 and beyond. Personally, I’m not a fan of Ray Hadley calling TV league – radio is his best playground – and Peter Sterling comes across better in the role of analyst than as the primary caller.
As for Phil Gould, Fatty Vautin, Freddy Fitler, Darren Lockyer and Co, well, I’m not excited at the prospect of another five seasons on the Nine network.
Will we be subject to Brisbane games every second Friday night? I hope not. Will other clubs such as Canberra and Cronulla get more free-to-air time? I fear not.
Will Channel Nine air its games in HD? I hope so. Will Nine stop the ridiculous one hour delayed telecast on Sunday afternoons? Gee I hope we get it live.
Fox Sports have breathlessly announced they will be airing live games on Sunday night and I guess that’s a plus for viewers but probably a financial downer for the clubs concerned. It’s tough asking families to turn up at the football on a Sunday night and front for work/school the following day.
Overall, I like the Fox Sports coverage of games but I believe the Commission was remiss in not insisting that the network put on a 24-hour, dedicated rugby league channel, a la AFL.
Why isn’t the Commission calling the shots, playing hard ball when they hold all of the trump cards?
No, today’s TV rights announcement wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped for the code and its growing army of followers.
Sure, there’s more money available now for RL but the AFL got considerably more in the biscuit tin for its “product” and will doubtless gloat about it at every opportunity.
I can only say good luck to Channel Nine and Fox Sports on their successful bid. Maybe there is still some loyalty left in our favourite game?
It can only be hoped that those irksome match scheduling issues be sorted out by the Nine bosses and that the guys at Fox look long and hard at providing a dedicated channel for league enthusiasts sooner rather than later.