Why the lack of FTA coverage for this fantastic Test series?

Andrew Young Roar Pro

By Andrew Young, Andrew Young is a Roar Pro

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    “You can stick with your original decision, you’re on screen now.” Met, we can only assume, with a sigh of relief from the on-field umpire, this utterance from the third umpire signals an unsuccessful review.

    It’s one of myriad sounds I savour from November through to early March annually.

    The sounds of summer – while no longer containing the familiar and comforting tone of Richie Benaud, or playful agitation between Bill Lawry and Tony Greig, all so aptly recreated by Billy Birmingham – are captured and distributed to millions of living rooms across the country.

    While the pinnacle of cricket coverage, for me at least, is ABC Grandstand, with the informed voices of Jim Maxwell and Harsha Bhogle, as well as the addition of Chris Rogers for the most recent Australian summer, we oftentimes resort to Channel Nine because we want pictures. We want to see the action.

    And despite its flaws – the chronicles of Spider Cam, and the introduction of ‘Pitch Scan’ (which, needless to say, pales in comparison to the old-fashioned key test) – annually, we watch. Free coverage of the game we love, how could we not?

    With cricket’s status within Australia often seen as a source of concern for those in high places, efforts to improve its coverage and to bring the crowds back have been concentrated in the form of day-night Test matches.

    Day-night test cricket adelaide oval

    They have been an irrefutable success, with the highest viewer ratings over the last two summers being for the two day-night matches at the Adelaide Oval, as well as at the Gabba.

    It is the perfect time slot, and don’t the commentators love to remind us of how much of a raging success it is – all the while failing to give a quality insight to the happenings of the match, of course.

    It is a shame, therefore, for both those covering the cricket and those of us who want to watch it, that at the moment, an incredible opportunity is being missed.

    The hours of play for the Test series in India coincide almost exactly with those we would use here in Australia for day-night Test cricket, the optimum viewing times for the majority of the Australian public.

    As it happens though, only a minority – those with pay TV – can enjoy it.

    I understand the value of TV rights, and that my argument stems from nothing more than an unceasing desire to watch cricket, and a frustration that it must come at a cost, but it seems a shame that many among a cricket-supporting nation are missing out on a most enthralling series, full of fire, spite and heated competition.

    It just isn’t the same catching up through media reports and delayed video highlights, and those who would broadcast the game on free-to-air, let alone the people responsible for its promotion, have let a fantastic opportunity go begging.

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 4:16pm
      Art Vanderlay said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

      Agree totally Andrew however if I’d paid for the rights to the NRL or AFL I’d be reluctant to dilute the ratings.

      • Roar Pro

        March 20th 2017 @ 4:27pm
        Andrew Young said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

        Yeah entirely fair enough, just a cricket fan not engaging with the NRL LOL

    • Roar Pro

      March 20th 2017 @ 5:14pm
      mrrexdog said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

      I’m surprised none of the commercial networks bought the rights to put it on one of their digital channels. Nine could use GEM, seven could use 7mate and ten could use one HD.

      The numbers that GEM got from the last couple ashes series in England have been pretty good

      • Roar Pro

        March 20th 2017 @ 5:17pm
        Andrew Young said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

        It’s another good point; God forbid we not see re-runs of FRIENDS or Ice Road Truckers

        • March 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm
          Rolland said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

          Reruns cost the networks peanuts test cricket costs millions to broadcast and the numbers just don’t add up.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 10:46pm
            Brainstrust said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

            Reruns don’t rate. If your going to get 12-20 hours of prime time per test which will add up to about 50-70 hours of high rating sport in prime time plus 25-35 in the daytime slot. its going to be worth millions easily.
            I would estimate that it would be a bargain at 10 million for the tour. Do we know how much Foxtel are paying, AFL for example gets 2 million per game, that translates to about 50 million. I doubt FOxtel are over the 10 million mark which would make it a very sensible and commercially viable investment for a free to air station.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 5:28pm
      SonOfLordy said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

      A FTA channel would have bought the rights if they knew the series was going to be as hotly contested.

      It could have easily turned into a drubbing like in Sri Lanka last year.

      If you’re a sports fan just get Foxtel. There are ways to stream this for free through Kodi.

      FTA TV is basically a dead medium.

      • Roar Pro

        March 20th 2017 @ 5:32pm
        Andrew Young said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

        “If you’re a sports fan just get Foxtel”- the unfortunate reality for many sport fans, is that this is not a viable option.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:57pm
          Jeff dustby said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

          It is visble. Australians just refuse to pay
          It’s dirt cheap

          • March 20th 2017 @ 11:07pm
            jamesb said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

            But for many Australians it’s not dirt cheap. And people have more important priorities of where there hard earned goes to. Whether it’s mortgages, bills, family or medical expenses. In the end, pay tv is a just luxury item.

            • Roar Pro

              March 21st 2017 @ 7:39am
              Andrew Young said | March 21st 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

              Thanks for clarifying it for everyone Jamesb, not everyone can afford to fork out monthly payments like that for a luxury item; certainly not a student such as myself!

              • March 21st 2017 @ 3:44pm
                SmithHatesMaxwell said | March 21st 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                I went on the Foxtel Play site and you can get entertainment and sports for $40 per month and that can be used on 3 devices (only through one xbox).

                Split the cost between one or two mates and you have live sport from around the world all year round.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:50pm
      Bored said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

      It is disappointing that the cricket is not on one of the networks multi channels. I really cannot see why an away series against any of the Asian nations would be all that pricey to a FTA network.

      However saying all that I am also disappointed that a lot of the people out on the web who follow cricket do not know the way around the pay tv problem. You do all realize it is out there if you only bothered to look?

      • March 22nd 2017 @ 9:36am
        Armchair Expert said | March 22nd 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        Agreed Bored, if you have a decent unlimited internet connection and a cheap android box you can get pretty much any test series for free or a few bucks per month.

        • March 22nd 2017 @ 12:35pm
          Bakkies said | March 22nd 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

          Due to Australia’s shíte time zone with most overseas sport on during the night which you have to pay for to watch you need a good DVR recorder.

    • Roar Pro

      March 20th 2017 @ 10:15pm
      The Doc said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

      Fair point. I used to be in on the FTA bandwagon. Quite simply it isn’t financially viable or lucrative for the main FTA channels to invest. Slightly surprised that isn’t broadcast on the side channels e.g. GEM, GO, 7mate etc that generally have drivel on anyway. Doubt it would cost much to run this series given the lack of interest from most FTA providers. But it in era of money, mustn’t be felt to be financially lucrative enough to invest.

      As previously mentioned, I miss the ABC radio coverage. I remember listening the coverage back in the tour of India in 2001. Gripping series that I only followed on radio and didn’t feel like I missed out despite not having Foxtel at the time.

      Unfortunately, I can understand Foxtel is not financially viable for many households but the reality is if you want to follow multiple sports you have no option but to pay the $600 or so for a foxtel package. As I said to my wife, as long as i have $600 to my account I will always have Foxtel. Also there was the previous issue of FTA channels buying rights e.g. NSL and then treating the purchased sport with contempt both denying the viewer the chance to watch it and preventing Foxtel from showing it as well. When Foxtel have the rights, you know you will get outstanding coverage of the event.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 2:01am
        Justin said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:01am | ! Report

        There is ABC radio coverage; just through the app on ABC Extra. Don’t think its gotten enough publicity

        • Roar Pro

          March 21st 2017 @ 7:40am
          Andrew Young said | March 21st 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

          And it’s invaluable, but as mentioned in the article, “we want to see the action”

    • March 21st 2017 @ 11:07am
      Jon Price said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      I really dislike Fox’s back up service and the concept of pay TV. However, I’ve seen Test cricket all around the world in the last 10 years. Various friends of mine have refused to subscribe to pay TV, but they’ve missed out on the joys of the best cricket I’ve seen.

      It is much more interesting seeing all the grounds in New Zealand, the West Indies, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India and the UAE, than the same old Aussie grounds.

      The friends also have no idea how Australia plays as a Test team, apart from in Australia and England. Many Aussies have no idea how ineffectual we’ve been against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in recent away series. They think we are better than we are, because nearly all Test cricket they see is played in familiar conditions in Oz.

      • Roar Pro

        March 21st 2017 @ 12:01pm
        Andrew Young said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        That’s an excellent observation, and is part of the reason i’d love to have access to it, but at the moment at least, it’s just unrealistic. To get a far more broad spectrum understanding of the game and what is going on in different series around the world would be awesome!

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