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Nine’s old boys club hurting their NRL coverage

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    We never thought it was possible for Nine to further alienate NRL’s extensive fan base. If the delayed games, strewn with lengthy ad breaks and unpalatable in-game cross-promotions for Centrebet, didn’t do it, the questionable appointment of Ray Hadley and Michael Slater to their NRL coverage this year surely will.

    For years, Nine have prided themselves as the premiere broadcaster for the NRL.

    It’s been a longstanding relationship that has endeared the channel and its broadcast team into the hearts and minds of the rugby league community.

    Fatty, Sterlo, Blocka – all legends in my mind.

    But in 20 years, the channel’s approach to broadcasting rugby league hasn’t evolved one bit. They’ve gotten comfortable.

    The graphics might be slightly different, the faces may have aged (or been replaced), but it’s all the same. Just a different smell, some might say.

    While pay television has improved sports coverage over the years by giving greater opportunities for women to contribute other than for novelty fodder, and employed more sports journalists to compliment the player-turned-commentator personalities, while also providing a good dose of youth, Nine has fallen behind in every category.

    Since the 1990s there’s been no real, no persistent attempt to change the way things are done at Nine.

    The demotion of Andrew Voss to the QRL coverage and appointment of Ray Hadley in his place as NRL commentator is yet another worrying sign of Nine’s refusal to move with the times.

    Instead of searching for new television broadcasting talent (of which there is plenty in the country) they choose old-fashioned, long in the tooth radio shock jock, Ray Hadley.

    His commentary last week of the Broncos vs Cowboys game was nauseating to say the least.

    In an ironic twist, the ads we disdain so much were actually a welcome pause to the non-stop caterwauling reminiscent of a call at the Dapto Dogs, not the NRL.

    After enduring that torture, a prevailing number of viewers wanted better. No, they demanded better.

    Will we get it though? I doubt it. Hadley is not short of media commitments. Was there really no other candidate in the ranks of Nine Sport or even other sport broadcasters that they could have courted for the position?

    Then we have Michael Slater who appears to be fulfilling the Brayshaw-esque role of “cricket guy on The Footy Show” seamlessly. He is knowledgeable on the game, sure.

    But does he add to the show? I’m not yet convinced.

    And though I enjoyed his effort last night interviewing junior players, I also remain undecided on Darryl Brohman whose main skill, by his own admission prior to last night, was offering to eat things on set at any given moment.

    Why are Nine are so stubborn? Why do they refuse to look to younger (dare I say more qualified) candidates that can perhaps take their NRL coverage into a fresher direction? Nine sports reporter Erin Molan is the lone respected female voice on The Footy Show.

    Would it be so absurd to offer her a more permanent position on the panel or for Friday Night Football?

    Or how about giving a Footy Show segment to the girls from OhErrol.com for a lighter take on league from a female perspective?

    As far as rugby league shows on Nine go, The Roast was close to perfection.

    Between old and new footy heads and the odd media commentator we actually took something away from it all. There could have been improvements of course, but it’s replacement The Roast/Sunday Footy Show combination is literally a mongrel of a show. The worst thing since CatDog and ligers.

    As genius as Beau Ryan’s crotch gestures on The Footy Show are, and as much as I love Andrew Johns’ valuable insight of Benji Marshal being “a freak”, maybe we as league fans can ask for a bit more. At least more than what we’re currently getting.

    Because if Nine don’t shake up the formula, they will continue do more damage than good for the game we love.

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    The Crowd Says (153)

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2012 @ 6:35am
      The Barry said | March 16th 2012 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      Nice article Melanie. I’m not a massive Vossy fan but geez things have taken a turn for the worse this year.

      Hadley’s call was a radio call and really jarring. I think it’s only going to be one game of FNF for me if I have to watch the Broncos and listen to Hadley every week.

      The afl footy show has a ratio of around 20% clowning around and 80% serious footy chat which feels about right while the NRL is more like 80/20. It just feels so forced. If they want to fix it, don’t worry about coming up with a whacky game show segment. Talk about footy for 5 minutes.

      Brohman is the worst “talent” on TV, any channel, any show. I have no idea how he has become a media pundit. He’s not knowledgeable or insightful and he certainly isn’t funny.

      Not sure what Slater’s roll is and he seems like the new kid at school doing anything anyone suggests to get a laugh and fit in. Calm down Slats.

      I loved the footy show / roast but it’s also been butchered. Andrew Webster and Tim Gilbert are like watching paint dry on growing grass. Together it’s a double straight man act.

      As an aside, has anyone seen Matt Johns on NRL on Fox ? He’s trying to put on this ultra-serious persona and seems really awkward. Its almost like he’s playing one of his characters.

      The commentator I enjoy listening to most is Paul Kent. Very direct, no hoopla and very interesting and insightful.

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2012 @ 9:50am
        Melanie Dinjaski said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Good call on Slats. That was most obvious last night when he was the only one on the panel to answer Brohman’s call for a “doggies” gesture. It was awkward viewing.

        • March 18th 2012 @ 8:05pm
          Peter Fletcher said | March 18th 2012 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

          Well said Melanie I saw it as well and could not agree more. Hopeless at best Channel 9.

        • March 18th 2012 @ 8:05pm
          Peter Fletcher said | March 18th 2012 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

          Well said Melanie I saw it as well and could not agree more. Hopeless at best Channel 9.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:31am
      oikee said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      I said along time ago Jason Costigan is the future of Rugby League calling. It is just that others are slow to wake up.
      He add’s a excitement level to the game, and i noticed that Warren, the guy on fox now has taken his decibels up a bit. this is the way you have to call rugby league. It is a exciting game, you need to call it with that same excitement, if you cant, get out, go home.
      Anyhow, we will wait and see what happens next year. This year looks like another write off.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:39am
      James said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      good article and wonderful timing after yesterday when MG Burbank suggested that the coverage on nine is better then fox.

      Oikee, maybe next year the NRL will be on a different channel 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2012 @ 7:43am
        MG Burbank said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        James, if you think Fox’s bunch of automatons calling their games are better than Ray Warren, I feel sorry for you. Having said that, the rest of Fox’s coverage is probably more in depth- but all I care about is how things are covered come game time and Nine does an excellent job.

        • March 16th 2012 @ 8:35am
          Boomshanka said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          “but all I care about is how things are covered come game time and Nine does an excellent job.”

          Except if one happens to live south of the Barassi line. Nine are crap when it comes to coverage.

          • March 17th 2012 @ 7:47pm
            Whites said | March 17th 2012 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

            I was in Victoria last weekend so I got a small taste of how you feel.

        • March 16th 2012 @ 9:25am
          james said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Nine does an excellent job? are you on something?
          what have they done to the Sunday roast?
          Gus/Rabs arguing like an old couple. noticed that Sterlo jumps in on this old man arguing lately too.
          Freddie and Johns sound like they are on Pluto sometimes.
          Vossy dropped to oblivion
          Brohman still employed somehow
          Fatty hasn’t been the same since he hurt himself.
          Mario….. no comment needed

          I feel sorry for anyone that doesn’t have foxtel and doesn’t live in NSW/QLD. having to wait up till 1AM to watch NRL, but you’re right the coverage on Nine is better.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:45am
      BT said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Fox are leaps and bounds in front. I think Matty Johns is great. He is obviously extremely knowledgable but also has a quick wit and keeps you smiling. I find Brandy Alexander the best rugby league personality at the moment. Again very knowledgable, unbiased and tells a great story. It is a pity we have not seen League Lounge this year. I found that show very entertaining. It was great seeing what the players were like away from footy. Brandy told some great stories last year. I loved the story about when he played that State of Origins Legend game last year and broke his ribs, or the story about when MG was younger and first dating his sister.

      Footy Show is unfortunately getting old. It has had its day. Sunday Footy Show followed by The Roast was there shining light, but the changed format is not that appealing.

      I agree on Costigan, he is a great caller.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 11:27am
        AGO74 said | March 16th 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        League Lounge is a great show. Bring it back!

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2012 @ 12:54pm
        The Barry said | March 16th 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Brandy unbiased ? Have you heard him call a Panthers game ? Absolutely one-eyed. The rest of the time I like him though and agree the League Lounge was a good watch.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 8:10pm
        Long suffering Tezza said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

        Will they send Hadley back to radio. Why does QLD have to suffer through his boring stilted monologue. ABC radio league call is better than him. The old version of Sunday Roast was about the only intelligent league show each week, why change? Bring back Rabs, I have watched or listened to him since the old Amco Cup days and have to say he far superior to the lot being served up today. Matty Johns looks to stitled and looks like he is just listening to the director or producer in his ear.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:48am
      Rodney McDonell said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Aren’t radio calls supposed to be better than TV? Many people actually mute their TV so that they can listen to Hadley and the continuous call team.

      Warren is a favourite commentator, but i’m sure he’s not as good as he used to be. He’s not calling the game for a good portion and instead is having a yarn with the rest of the team.

      It was strange to hear hadleys voice on the tele, but i don think the call was that bad. Its probably just a matter of what you’ve gotten used to.

      But i agree with idea of younger fresher talent, especially women if you can find someone who knows that game and preferably someone who has played it. That is, there are plenty of women playing the game these days or women referees. We should be able to find someone who has the skill to talk about it as well. After all if your an inspiring sports journalist, its probably a good bet you’ve played a bit of sport and like it, thus enspiring to be a sports jounalist.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 9:56am
        Renegade said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Yeah i tend to agree….i remember being a kid and muting the TV to listen to Hadley.

        He is no doubt the best caller of rugby league behind Ray Warren.

        • Roar Guru

          March 16th 2012 @ 12:43pm
          mds1970 said | March 16th 2012 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

          I’ve often muted the TV and gone with the radio commentary for cricket. Have tried it with NRL as well – I rate David Morrow on 702 as a better commentator than Hadley or Warren; and Warren Ryan’s analysis is excellent. But that won’t help when Ray Hadley’s doing the 9:30 replay game.
          The other problem these days is that the radio is several seconds ahead of the telly.

        • March 17th 2012 @ 9:55am
          john said | March 17th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          you guys are nuts Ray Hadley is poor the tone of his voice never changes and makes a good game boring

        • March 25th 2012 @ 7:33pm
          Legless Chook said | March 25th 2012 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

          R U serious Ray Hadley sounds like he is calling a horse race. Get rid of him.

        • September 8th 2012 @ 8:34pm
          Rob Cooke said | September 8th 2012 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

          Yes rabs and ray Hadley have rugby league first they are not about then selves then football as Gus Gould is all about what he said or has done to help the winning team to win give the calls to rabs and ray

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2012 @ 10:06am
        Melanie Dinjaski said | March 16th 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        I did try attempting the Grandstand stream to compliment the TV on mute, but it shouldn’t be that way should it. As a radio broadcaster Hadley was far too descriptive on EVERY TACKLE and then when the first try was scored, the players were already patting each others backs while he was still describing the lead up to and then finally calling “TRY”. That delay threw me massively!

        On younger talent and women being more included – that’s probably the biggest hurdle Nine have to overcome. They need a young face that’s not a former or current player. Fox and Sky do it why can’t they? I’m not sure if it’s a league thing or a Nine thing, but they have GOT to move with the times!

        The ugly, backwards side of league pops up every now and then too, like seeing Daily Telegraph sports editor and league devotee Buzz Rothfield on Twitter congratulating the fact there was a female touch judge, followed by a remark about her “pins”. Stuff like that, and you see it on The Footy Show too, thats got to stop. It’s not REAL appreciation of the role women in league have.

        Also would be good to include people from different backgrounds. You look at the Footy Show audience and there’s a lot of non-traditional non-Anglo footy fans there. Just a bit more diversity from Nine would be advantageous for them I think.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 10:16am
        Ken said | March 16th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Must agree on Ray Warren, he seems to have slipped a lot in the last couple of seasons. I’m in my 30’s so his voice calling the football on TV is an all-encompassing benchmark for me but age seems to have wearied him recently. He’s slower and doesn’t seem to follow the ebb and flow of the game as closely as he used to and his inane arguments with Gould are cringe-inducing.

        It did feel strange having Hadley call the game on TV, jarring even if familiar enough from listening to his radio calls plenty of times. It’s not really the same thing is it, calling on TV and radio? A radio call needs to be descriptive and fast, who, what and where – TV viewers can already see much of this so the TV caller can be more measured and choose to focus on critical elements. Anyway, I have nothing against Hadley but I agree that his call on TV didn’t really fit.

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2012 @ 12:56pm
        The Barry said | March 16th 2012 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Rod I think there’s a fundamental difference in TV vs radio coverage in that obviously with radio you have to paint the entire picture. I found Hadley trying to do that on the TV call was quite jarring and too much.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 9:32pm
        Chad Smith said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

        Its all about mates at channel 9. It’s the Gygnall (CEO)and Crawley ( HEAD OF SPORT) show at 9.They give there mates a chance and thats all there is too it.
        Trying to be a sports commentator these days is not about how good you are its about who you know.
        Until the media focus on the media and channel 9 , these people will not promote new talent simply because there is no path way to the commmentary box any more.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:51am
      Fetus said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      The footy show has mildly improved with slats the five in the bin segment is not so bad. But last night it highlighted that ray Hadley and the big marn are not really in touch with the modern game. When Matthew johns was ousted there was also talks he wanted to take the show in a new direction. There is plenty of talent move to anther channel and kill offsite of the rubbish

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