AFL beats NRL in media cycle battle
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The AFL is the beast that never sleeps, and when it comes to controlling the news cycle, no-one does it better. They launched into free agency last week and yesterday the trades started flying through.
The two major newspapers in Melbourne, the Herald Sun and The Age, are filled with news of the latest wheelings and dealings.
The average NRL fan is used to hearing about their version of player movement 18-months in advance or in round two of the season just finished.
It’s an annoyance, slightly disrespectful to those who pay their hard earned to watch, but accepted.
The AFL has turned roughly the same thing into a month long carnival. One that will take up plenty of time on the TV news and space in the paper.
High visibility for as long as possible.
Rugby League’s offering is the international game.
Australia takes on New Zealand in Townsville this weekend in-case you hadn’t heard.
The clash has been received well by the locals, as expected, but is it struggling for relevance elsewhere?
It’s a concept that had Australian coach Tim Sheens offer up this thought when talking to reporters:
“There is a little bit of (a struggle for motivation) with nothing happening at the end of the season, and the end of a long season for them,” he said.
“They (The Kiwis) have picked a very strong squad. I think in that regard, yes, there’ll be plenty of respect but motivation-wise we need to get it done, then they can go on holidays.”
That last part says it all. Get in, get out and move on.
A post-season NRL transfer window would be better for the fans, but terrible for the players.
Salary caps get arranged too far in advance to handle late negotiations.
James Maloney’s contract with the Roosters was signed so long ago that it has dust on it.
It would completely re-jig the way clubs go about their business at the moment. Perhaps too much so.
The AFL has struck gold with the draft, trades and free agency from a media cycle perspective.
Their supporters don’t morph into cricket fans as soon as the final whistle goes in the grand final.
Instead, they wait to see if their club can jag a piece that will help with the premiership puzzle.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.