Does Channel Nine know what rugby league fans want?

Kris Swales Columnist

By Kris Swales, Kris Swales is a Roar Expert

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    Only two games into Channel Nine’s five year, multi-multi-million dollar broadcast deal with the NRL, we’ve already got an answer to that eternal question – how much does it cost to buy your way onto a rugby league panel show?

    Somewhere in the ballpark of $15 million a season, if the appearance of official NRL betting partner Tom Waterhouse on the post-match panel for the first episode of Friday Night Broncos in 2013 is any indication.

    By all reports it was a barnstorming debut from the talent who openly confesses on his ubiquitous television commercials “I don’t know how they find the gap and get to the line.”

    Accordingly, conversation quickly turned to horse racing and his famous mother Gai – or so Facebook and Twitter informed me.

    I flicked over to the NBL on ONE as soon as I sensed his presence, and basked in the glory of a sporting telecast unencumbered by any mention of unders, overs or fine cotton.

    Disclosure: I don’t find Tom Waterhouse to be particularly likable, and have voiced my feelings on The Roar previously.

    I do, however, respect his right to advertise his product given the amount of cash he has fronted up.

    What I do take issue with is a guy whose entire marketing campaign is built around not being able to play sport suddenly popping up on a rugby league panel show.

    By my understanding, to quote Jerry Seinfeld when George Costanza wanted to become a commentator, “they tend to give those jobs to ex-ball players and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.”

    If the stream of vitriol that saw Tom Waterhouse trending on Twitter on Friday night is any indication, I’m not alone in my objection to his presence.

    And that’s before you even get into current investigations into possible match fixing, the ‘face’ of the NRL going off the grid due in part to gambling issues, and the ethical dilemma of gambling being normalised for a generation of kids who don’t know any different.

    With that off my chest, I’ll pack the soapbox away and get onto some positives to come out of the first two games of the NRL season on Nine.

    Whatever your feelings on Sonny Bill Williams, Nine did a great job of making his return and entrance to the playing field a ‘moment’.

    With any luck, the ‘monologue cam’ they introduced before Sonny Bill Williams took the field is here to stay, if only so we Canberra Raiders fans can see footage of Blake Ferguson streaking towards the tryline overlaid with an internal monologue consisting mainly of the word ‘brah’.

    Spidercam should probably be kept out of the live play mix until the camera ops have got it fully under control, but from a replay perspective it provides a real ‘money can’t buy’ experience. Some may question why its appearance is sponsored by a Liam Neeson film, to which I would respond why wouldn’t it be?

    More impressive are the multi-angle, Matrix-style 360 degree morphs when the try scoring plays are broken down at halftime. What seemed superfluous in Nine’s cricket coverage is quite spectacular in a rugby league context.

    What hasn’t been so spectacular is Karl Stefanovic’s introduction as a pre-match host for each broadcast. When the first person you hear from on the Broncos versus Sea Eagles coverage gets the score of their history-making first meeting in 1988 wrong, it’s not a good look.

    Nor is an onscreen scoreboard that occasionally obscures play, especially when combined with advertising graphics that cover the bottom of your TV screen.

    Still, it all pales in comparison to selling a seat on your post-match wrap.

    Would the Raiders let me throw on the number 9 jersey if I dished out enough of my hard-earned?

    You’ll find out at Penrith Park on Sunday. The odds are stacked against me though.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • March 10th 2013 @ 6:42am
      Vivalasvegan said | March 10th 2013 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      Didn’t think channel Nine could do a worse job than last year but it is just about unwatchable for the reasons mentioned plus the absolute garbage commentary and the dreadful direction that misses so much live action in favour of poor replays and blokes warming up on the side.

      The thoughts of Sonny Bill were an absolute hoot! At first I thought I was hearing ‘The Voices’ again. Luckily GI and the Burgess boys put the hype into perspective.

      Spider Cam gives me motion sickness. It is no coincidence that when you go to a game the expensive seats are in the same spot as the main tv camera view whilst the cheapest are down one end, way up high. Thanks SpiderCam for replicating that ‘worst seat in the house’ experience.

      Fox has chopped a lot of my faves and replaced them with less engaging people (Shirvo?) but ad free footy is grand.

      • March 10th 2013 @ 6:44am
        Vivalasvegan said | March 10th 2013 @ 6:44am | ! Report

        And that rabbit faced Waterhouse is ‘On The List’

      • March 10th 2013 @ 8:13am
        Andy said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        The voice of Sonny Bill LOL overrated. Tom Waterhouse + Karl Stefanovic uggghhh Channel 9s coverage is back. Then the adds come on. Another notable mention is Brisbane’s RALLY TOWEL! and the HAyne Plane.

        • March 10th 2013 @ 9:26am
          eagleJack said | March 10th 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          The “Rally Towel” concept was hilarious. A lot of harmless sledging flying around the crowd that the towels were a novelty due to a lack of bathing around Brisbane.

          • March 10th 2013 @ 10:03am
            Andy said | March 10th 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            Yeah i thought the whole rally towel thing was funny.

    • March 10th 2013 @ 7:45am
      Matt said | March 10th 2013 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Karl? Karl? I thought I had the wrong channel for a minute, but no, there’s the grass, there’s the stadium in the background.

      And yes, what the hell is this spidercam. It’s spinning all over the place. Keep it for replays only please if it works well. It’s about the equivalent of putting my camera in the washing machine and watching the footage the way they used it.

    • March 10th 2013 @ 7:54am
      Matt Moule said | March 10th 2013 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      And there still not televising all of there games live??? Listen to what we want Chanel 9. It’s time to get with the times and play all games live. Fox sports is the way to watch the NRL. And I reckon it’s good to see Matt Shirvo as he gives a different prospective, then having an beat up old rugby league player in front of the TV.

      • Roar Guru

        March 10th 2013 @ 8:59am
        TheGenuineTailender said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Ultimately its about money and they obviously can’t finance exclusive rights. You really want to watch the NRL, then get Fox.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 10th 2013 @ 9:10am
          Damn Straight said | March 10th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          You are right…but it’s a shame I have to pay 100 dollars a month to watch 8 games of Rugby League a week. The rest of the time…oh, so much garbage. It is a scary thought indeed to imagine channel 9 with exclusive rights.

          • March 10th 2013 @ 10:58am
            Josh said | March 10th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            Well given tickets are approx $25 a game then $100 is bloody awesome for 8 games without leaving your house.

      • March 10th 2013 @ 4:39pm
        Gary Martin said | March 10th 2013 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        Sadly, Fox is the only alternative but for those without the means of paying the rent, or who may not want to watch all games, nine is a virtual dictator on the free to air. “Take it or see nothing”. If the “see noting” option continues to be taken; entry fees continue to rise; NRL drug/salary cap issues dominate the headlines: and other negative press continues, then we will having nothing to fear: Channel nine NRL machine will be axed along with the code. So very sad.

    • March 10th 2013 @ 8:04am
      Lou said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Karl’s attempt at doin the “GUS” oh dear ! Waterhouse would do better advertising “sorbent”, as for the footy show I’m over Benji, Beau, Slatz, ! Fatty, Big Marn , Erin , Horse head would be better off on there own !! but format needs changing ””” BAD !!!

      • March 10th 2013 @ 9:57am
        FiveDockCicada said | March 10th 2013 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Lou! Are you just coming to realise that the Footy Show is pathetic? A lot of us have been over it for decades…and its just another reason to get Fox. At least Fox’s weekly NRL shows (League Central, Matty Johns Show, NRL 360, Sterlo’s Show) all talk about the NRL pretty much the whole show! Fancy that! Even Matty Johns has been put on a tight leash with his so-called ‘comedy’. Nine’s Footy Show has very little footy content. It begrudgingly gives Bolts and the panel their “5 minutes in the bin” segment to talk about the NRL, but that’s it! Its as if talking about NRL issues is a real nuisance, so they give it a 5 minute block and get it over with and out of the way so they can carry on for the other 90 minutes like a bunch of amateurs at some local bowling club talent night. Switch it off!

    • March 10th 2013 @ 8:36am
      Ronald M said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      Nine does not care what fans think as can be seen in their other programming.

      Programs are just a necessary inconvienience between the ads. They must be used to drive other revenue streams where ever possible. Suggestions for this include In programme advertising, Insertion of a client’s product / music track into the programme, create a phone in / voting element that uses premium services, invite a guest who will pay for participation.

    • March 10th 2013 @ 8:38am
      Haz said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      Well, clearly Karl is replacing Ken Sutcliffe, who pops us on important rugby league game (e.g. State of Origin), but otherwise has no connection to the modern game.

      I felt like the mid-game interviews with James Maloney and Tim Robinson had a lot of potential, but seemed to be a short ‘how ya going?’, ”, for the sake of formula rather than providing any new insight.

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