Battlelines drawn over live Friday night footy

Adrian Musolino Columnist

By Adrian Musolino, Adrian Musolino is a Roar Expert

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    Jason Blake and Colm Begley of St KIlda collide with Grant Birchall of Hawthorn during the AFL Round 19 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the St Kilda Saints at Aurora Stadium. Slattery Images

    AFL stars and fans are declaring war on Channel 7. And for good reason. The network has confirmed it won’t be showing Friday night AFL matches live, as it’s committed instead to Better Homes and Gardens.

    The continuation of delayed coverage has the AFL world fuming and has already sparked discussion over the AFL’s next media deal.

    The outrage is justified.

    An 11pm or over finish to the 8:30pm coverage is simply too late for kids, and the AFL should rightly be concerned by the early start to the antagonism toward Seven.

    Channel 7’s track record with its sports coverage has been well documented here on The Roar, but you sense their continued failure to grasp the importance of live coverage is going to cost them big.

    The fact that this debate is raging weeks before the season kicks-off suggests the AFL and Seven should be worried about a public backlash.

    For AFL fans, there are alternatives to Channel 7 on Friday nights, including the AFL website’s Match Day live scoring (helps keep track of those crucial Dream Team points!), radio, Twitter updates and even live-streaming.

    We no longer live in an age where we are solely dependant on television and radio, and their failure to grasp this is finally having a tangible impact.

    As discussed during the Australian Open tennis, the huge drop in television ratings was in large part the result of Seven’s much-maligned delayed coverage.

    As I wrote: “There’s no other indicator beyond television ratings to account for a decrease in the Australian Open’s popularity, with attendances at Melbourne Park increasing by approximately 80,000 over the past five years.

    “The exodus of viewers for the Australian Open is more of a boycott of Channel 7 than a reflection of tennis’ standing in this country.”

    While the AFL is obviously in a much stronger position to retain an audience compared to the Australian Open, they must be worried by the damage Seven’s delayed coverage will do to the ratings and popularity of Friday night footy.

    Now Channel 9 has reportedly thrown its hat into the next round of AFL television rights, with live Friday night footy into Victoria, SA and Tasmania – and live into NSW and Queensland on their Go! Digital channel should the anti-siphoning laws be changed in time – sure to increase their bargaining position should Seven fail to budge.

    Seven has a simple choice: listen to its audience (90 per cent voting on the Herald Sun website demanding live Friday night footy), show the fixtures live (can’t Better Homes and Gardens be shown on any other weeknight?) or risk a backlash akin to the one that impacted its Australian Open coverage.

    If it doesn’t, it merely strengthens Nine’s bargaining power at the negotiating table with the AFL and weakens Seven’s relationship with the league.

    The lesson here is a familiar one: with all the advances in television and sporting coverage, it says a lot about the backwardness of Australian television and the regulations that govern it that the biggest code in Australia is relegated to delayed coverage on what is the most popular night to watch it for its fans.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • Roar Guru

      February 17th 2010 @ 7:28am
      Redb said | February 17th 2010 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Channel 10 is now also offering AFL live on Friday Nights.

      Unlike the NRL which goes live on Friday Night in a boost to its ratings, AFL is always on one hour delay on Channel 7 – they are slowly being marginalised by the other networks.

      Apart from the ANZAC Day game and sold out finals, the only live AFL game last year was St Kilda v Geelong on a Sunday arvo which attracted a staggering average of 900,000 for the last quarter in Melbourne alone. Friday night unlike Sunday afternoon is prime time.


    • February 17th 2010 @ 7:53am
      Justin said | February 17th 2010 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      The worst thing for me at present with 7s coverage is that we all know its on delay. So why oh farking why do we have to put up with all the pre-match, quarter, half and 3/4 time bullsh1t?

      The least they could do was speed up the process by cutting out half-time and getting on with the game so it finishes sometime before midnight!
      Its rare that I bother watching more than a half unless its a great game or close. Its just too bloody late when you can find out the live score any other way you like…

      • February 17th 2010 @ 7:55am
        Marshall said | February 17th 2010 @ 7:55am | ! Report


      • Roar Guru

        February 17th 2010 @ 8:14am
        Redb said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        or listen to the radio instead.

        • February 17th 2010 @ 8:26am
          James W said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          But how sad that in this day an age live footy is only available on the radio on Friday night! It’s 2010!

      • February 17th 2010 @ 8:29am
        DB said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        I once listened to a live AFL game on the radio and during the breaks watched the delay telecast on Ch7 one Sunday afternoon. The delay telecast started started on a one hour delay but finished on a 1:20 delay. so that’s 20 minutes extra of waffle and ads , you would have to put up with. no wonder they don’t want to show it live.

    • February 17th 2010 @ 8:16am
      JiMMM said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      I have just thought of a way for 7 to have Better Homes and Gardens lead into the AFL, cut the 2 shows beforehand (Home and something, isn’t it a soap based on BH&G anyway, and Today Tonight is a litigation liability anyway). Start BH&G at 6:30 and then show the AFL straight after sounds a ratings winner to me, now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the calls from the 7 execs to explain tis thing we like to call common sense.

      • February 17th 2010 @ 8:32am
        James W said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Considering the religious war Today Tonight and A Current Affair have over ratings (and how pointless their stories are), no way Seven would touch TT. I just don’t understand why they don’t show Better Homes on another weekday!

    • February 17th 2010 @ 8:47am
      Mick said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      7 could put news, tt, home & away, better homes & gardens on 7TWO for the aussie open and the friday night afl in all states and play the sport on their main channel

      9 could do it with go for the cricket, wimbledon etc

      If they do not want to show it live to protect the gate they should say so,

      I can understand afl not wanting live telecast v the gate and networks do what they can to maximise their profits which is what they are doing in this case but to blame the anti siphoning / media laws or whatever law is bs

    • February 17th 2010 @ 8:55am
      allblackfan said | February 17th 2010 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      As bad as AFL fans think they are being treated by Seven, rugby fans have been treated far worse.
      Seven brought the FTA rights for Super 14 about five years ago then never bothered to show a single game, live or delayed, or even a highlights package (although they are keen enough on the Bledisloe rights).
      The lesson we learned is this — Seven sucks!
      Although I have to ask: does the Seven decision apply to only its NSW/Qld or nationally? It’s no secret that the AFL telecasts in Sydney/Brisbane are being slaughtered by lifestyle shows.
      Interesting to see how Seven would handle its AFL games if it wins the rights to also show NRL games.

      • Roar Guru

        February 17th 2010 @ 10:32am
        Dogs Of War said | February 17th 2010 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Seven did show a highlights package every Saturday for a while (Though it was of the last weekends games). They did that for a couple of seasons before stopping it. Someone like me who doesn’t have Foxtel thought it was great to be able to see action from all the matches (Extended highlights of all the Australian games). Really need at least something like that back of free to air TV.

        • February 17th 2010 @ 3:33pm
          AGO74 said | February 17th 2010 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          Reason the Super 14 highlights was taken off air was because no-one watched it. That’s not a bag out from union. It’s just a fact. The ratings were appalling. Agree with the sentiment though that Channel 7 is a massive p!ss-taker when it comes to televising sport.

        • February 17th 2010 @ 4:00pm
          Justin said | February 17th 2010 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

          With new digi channels a show like that could be put on 7.2 on the Monday or Tuesday night like Fox do with Extra Time.

          Having it on over a week later? No wonder no one watched it, who wants to see matches that old? A team may have played again in between!

          • Roar Guru

            February 17th 2010 @ 4:30pm
            Dogs Of War said | February 17th 2010 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

            I did. That’s why I remember it. I don’t have foxtel, and thus have to rely on programs like that to keep in touch. These days it’s a visit to the pub, but thats no good if they play in SA.

            • Roar Guru

              February 17th 2010 @ 4:33pm
              AndyRoo said | February 17th 2010 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

              They were simpler times though, no digital channels, broadband internet and sports tonight was on at something like 10:30pm.

              Now days week old highlights sounds ridiculous

            • February 17th 2010 @ 4:52pm
              Justin said | February 17th 2010 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

              Dogs – Do you have a few pots at the pub when you watch the Rugby? Reason I ask is you could probably get Fox and save money by not having a few beers each week at said pub. The cost of Fox with sport is basically 4-5 beers a week…

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 5:01pm
                rugbyfuture said | February 17th 2010 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                foxtel is way to epensive to be worth it, its $88 a month and for half of that month no rugby or league is on half the time.

              • February 17th 2010 @ 5:19pm
                Justin said | February 17th 2010 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                RF – Its less than $60. Its great for me being in Melbourne. See all the RU, plenty of AFL, especially Sundays with no RU on. It has all the sports I love and play – cricket, domestic and International, golf, EPL, horse racing etc etc.

                For under $60 thats not too bad IMO although it could be lower, plus the wife gets to watch plenty of sitcoms!

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 5:31pm
                rugbyfuture said | February 17th 2010 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

                thats still more than $700 a year, alot for “entertainment”. Are you sure you don’t work in the fox sales department?

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 5:40pm
                Dogs Of War said | February 17th 2010 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                It’s pretty cheap RF for entertainment. Your young though, I am sure once your earning a bit of cash, it will put it all in perspective. In the meantime you just find out what mates have foxtel and find an excuse to get over there (ok, I do this quite often instead of going to the pub, but it’s all good!)

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 6:08pm
                rugbyfuture said | February 17th 2010 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

                still, an unnecessary cost imposed on a budget, i am cheap, but still, problem with your suggestion DoW is none of my friends are interrested in rugby… 😛

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 6:12pm
                Dogs Of War said | February 17th 2010 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

                You play Rugby RF? Thus you have a whole lot of mates with Foxtel that like Rugby.

              • Roar Guru

                February 17th 2010 @ 6:17pm
                rugbyfuture said | February 17th 2010 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

                most willing to play, not support… (typical i think of rugby)

            • Roar Guru

              February 17th 2010 @ 4:57pm
              Dogs Of War said | February 17th 2010 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

              Yeah, but it’s an excuse to get out of the house. With Foxtel you end up camping yourself on the lounge too much. Sure it’s nice, but honestly it’s how I put on weight, and it’s much harder to get it off, though I do try hard (Well my Personal Trainer makes sure of that)

              • February 17th 2010 @ 5:16pm
                Justin said | February 17th 2010 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

                All fair points Dogs

    • February 17th 2010 @ 9:16am
      Boris said | February 17th 2010 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Take all sport away from Ch7, this is 2010, not 1985. Time for the AFL to step up and demand live coverage, rather than just sit back and pocket the cash. Friday night footy is not a medium to put on tape delay and squeeze in as many annoying ads as possible. It’s live or nothing – and Ch7, the tribe has spoken!

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