What A-League matches should be on Friday night FTA?

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert


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    Central Coast win the 2012/13 A-League Grand Final (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    With the A-League fixtures for next season set to be released tomorrow, featuring a live Friday night free-to-air fixture on SBS2 for the first time, it’s pertinent to ask what type of fixture should kick-off each weekend?

    Should the Friday night FTA game be used to showcase the competition through a blockbuster clash, such as the Sydney or Melbourne Derby?

    Is it an opportunity for the FFA to expand the interest in the competition by kicking off each weekend with one of the matches of the round, a strategy used by other codes?

    Given the success of the competition last season with growing crowds, ratings and club membership, does the Friday fixture present a strategic opportunity to expand the reach of the competition even further?

    Or should the fixturing be commensurate with what SBS paid as part of the new TV deal, reported at the time to have been no more than $10m?

    With Foxsports having coughed up the lion’s share of the new $160m four-year deal and having done a great job of covering the league over its initial eight seasons, should they be rewarded with the blockbusters?

    Is it enough, simply, that fans are getting a taste of the A-League on FTA?

    Based on what I’ve been hearing, it looks likely that the FFA have taken the latter option.

    When the draw is announced tomorrow, it’s unlikely that the Friday night fixtures will feature too many of the blockbusters, such as the derbies, the Big Blue, and the grand final replay.

    Certainly it appears that Sydney FC may launch the season, and with Alessandro Del Piero on board, that would be a big way to launch the return of FTA football.

    But beyond that there may be less to get excited about for FTA fans.

    Indeed, it appears that one or two of the weaker clubs, such as the Melbourne Heart, will feature in a few Friday night games.

    This may be a way to help some clubs on the road to sustainability.

    Yet, give some of the Heart’s crowds at AAMI Park over the past couple of seasons, what sort of image will showcasing them reflect on the competition?

    And, indeed, could putting the Heart at home live on a Friday night further erode AAMI crowds, with wavering fans tempted to sit in front of the couch?

    Will empty seats at AAMI Park or a less active support at say Bluetongue be the type of image that we want to remit on FTA?

    To those getting their first taste of the A-League next season, is it best to showcase some of the bigger active support spectacles and atmospheres to them?

    There was speculation in one report last week that the FFA might feature up to five Western Sydney Wanderers games on Friday, tapping into a strength area for the code.

    This appears unlikely, with fans of the club strong in their opposition to having too many Friday night games when the club was launched.

    More likely is that a few of the Wanderers away games might be beamed back into the lounges of fans watching on FTA in western Sydney.

    If that’s the case, it would certainly help Friday night ratings, with Sydney and Melbourne still considered the best-rating markets.

    It’s a fine balancing act for the FFA. On the one hand they would want to reward Fox for their loyalty and support so far, yet on the other they need to be strategic and try and build on the success of the past two seasons, particularly last season.

    When the draw is announced tomorrow we will know a little more, but I’m keen to hear your thoughts on what the best way forward is with Friday night football?

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (159)

    • May 21st 2013 @ 8:24am
      jamesb said | May 21st 2013 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      In every Friday night game, they may have a team involved that comes from Australias three biggest markets, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. In other words,you might see teams like Sydney FC, WSW, Victory, Heart and Roar dominate Friday night matches.

      I’d be surprised if they put a match on like Newcastle v Wellington.

      • May 21st 2013 @ 9:33am
        Fred said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        as long as a team for one of the big Eastern capital cities is involved, then it doesn’t matter over the course of a season
        everyone will get some exposure, including the smaller clubs
        although the nix might be lucky to get a spot
        Fox and SBS is about national ratings, and from that point of view it wouldnt make a lot of sense to involve the nix in any of the games

      • Roar Rookie

        May 21st 2013 @ 1:39pm
        Wat Le Fark said | May 21st 2013 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        Because of the time difference SBS will only show east coast teams live games at the same time on a Friday night.

        You won’t get to see any Perth, Adelaide or Wellington home games live on a Friday night, otherwise they’d might have to start the Nix games around midnight.

        SBS has promised they will show “blockbuster” games, but they have not reached agreement with Fox or FFA about which games they will get.

        Fox obviously doesn’t want to lose too many “ratings winners” and the FFA doesn’t want to kill its record attendances growth by showing “blockbusters” and derbies live.

        The A-League fixture list this season will be the most anticipated in years.

        • May 21st 2013 @ 1:50pm
          Griffo said | May 21st 2013 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          Actually i think you’ll find that in terms of start times Adelaide would be more favourable than Brisbane due it only being half an hour behind Melbourne and Sydney, as opposed to no daylight saving in Queensland putting Brisbane an hour behind. I think an even spread of the clubs over the season would be good but they should aim to have a few big match ups evenly spaced throughout the season, i.e. Victory v SFC, Melbourne and Sydney derbies, WSW v Mariners for the GF rematch etc.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 21st 2013 @ 10:51pm
          Wat Le Fark said | May 21st 2013 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

          Adelaide is a good case in point, but SBS have said they will only be doing the “East Coast” teams live on a Friday night, even though as you rightly say, Brisbane is 1 hour behind, while Adelaide is only half an hour.

          The Season fixture list comes out about lunch time tomorrow and will be interesting to see what games we get on FTA.

          I guess we can still watch our choice of any A-League game live on Foxtel or the bowling club down the road 🙂

    • May 21st 2013 @ 8:59am
      oly said | May 21st 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      I think they need to use the SBS to really showcase the A-League. Imagine having the Sydney derby at Parramatta Stadium shown live on SBS. Seeing it’s likely to be a sellout, what better way to let more people see the game.

      It’s a tough one, because Friday night games usually impact crowd figures – especially in a city like Sydney where getting to the ground by 7.30pm is a struggle no matter where you’re coming from. But I’d gladly put up with a few quick trips from work to WSW games if it meant the A-League was being showcased in the best possible way on free-to-air.

    • Roar Guru

      May 21st 2013 @ 9:14am
      Cameron Kellett said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      2013-14 Draw release at 11am AEST tomorrow! Only 26 hours to go.

      • May 21st 2013 @ 12:46pm
        Kasey said | May 21st 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        This is a full month earlier than expected**. Last season the fixture was released on Monday June 24th. My club has already been in contact with me regarding their membership records I think AUFC has finally planned something to recognise long term members this upcoming season will be my 6th as a full member. I was present at the club’s first game in October 2003, and regularly went to games when I returned over the Christmas holiday period but didn’t become a full member/ ST Holder until I moved back to Adelaide in 2007/8.
        It is my understanding that the club has asked FFA to host Brisbane Roar on the weekend of Oct 18-19 to commemorate the inaugural game against the Strikers in the NSL.

        **I guess that will give me just that bit longer to organise an away trip or two : )

      • Roar Guru

        May 21st 2013 @ 10:42pm
        Cameron Kellett said | May 21st 2013 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

        **ITALIAN LEGEND FABIO CANNAVARO says he’ll tell ex-AC Milan and now Juventus ace
        ANDREA PIRLO to play in the ALEAGUE before he retires!**


    • May 21st 2013 @ 9:20am
      Atawhai Drive said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      I would prefer ‘which’ rather than ‘what’, but never mind.

      Will the matches be on SBS2, channel 32, which is an SD channel? It would be better for them to be on channel 30, in HD.

      Scheduling will be a difficult exercise. SBS will want a fair bit of bang for its commercial buck, which suggests we won’t see too many games from Wellington, Perth or even Gosford.

      • Roar Guru

        May 21st 2013 @ 9:29am
        Cameron Kellett said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        It will be SBS 2. I also believe it will be in HD but I can’t find any confirmation on that.

      • May 21st 2013 @ 9:39am
        Brendo said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        There was a statement at the time that SBS rights were announced that it would be in SBS2 and SBS HD. Of course nothing is written in stone so we will just have to wait and see.

        • May 21st 2013 @ 1:47pm
          mahonjt said | May 21st 2013 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

          cleryl recall this announcement from SBS. I hope they keep their promise – although I am not dropping my Fox. They are too important to this league and our game.

    • Roar Pro

      May 21st 2013 @ 9:28am
      Geoff Koop said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      This may mean that Adelaide won’t have the quadrillion Friday night matches they’ve hoarded the past couple of seasons

    • May 21st 2013 @ 9:37am
      Brendo said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      Always thought they would be likely to pair a strong drawing away team with a weaker local team for the majority of the matches.

      Playing games like
      Heart v WSW
      Heart v SFC
      CCM v MVFC
      NJ v MVFC
      Roar v SFC
      Roar v WSW
      Roar v MVFC

      Makes a lot of sense as it helps the smaller teams gain FTA exposure while providing the best opportunity to pad the FTA ratings by providing well supported away clubs.

      Add in a couple of blockbusters on key dates and I think its a good formula. I don’t expect to see any Wellington games and there is little point giving Perth away games on FTA as the 3 hour time difference makes it a futile exercise.

      It will be interesting see how many games Adelaide feature in FTA.

      • May 21st 2013 @ 1:10pm
        Ian said | May 21st 2013 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        Brisbane Roar a weaker local team?………surely you jest.

        • May 21st 2013 @ 1:52pm
          Brendo said | May 21st 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          Didn’t mean it that way and sorry if I offended. Trying to highlight that its the away team that the FFA will likely focus as that is what will drive viewers. Just rtying to highlight that they will focus less on the derby matches and more on the cross state matches.

          I can also see Roar playing away as some key games as well.

          • May 21st 2013 @ 3:33pm
            Ian said | May 21st 2013 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            Brendo – that could be a good point about the away team will drive viewers to some extent. i too would like a mixture of ensuring all teams are represented with some big game matches thrown in for good measure.

      • May 21st 2013 @ 5:17pm
        Tony said | May 21st 2013 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

        ROAR a weaker local team? Average crowd last year was 12916 for the ROAR and 12466 for WSW. Suncorp Stadium always looks empty with 20,000 in it.

        • May 21st 2013 @ 10:55pm
          Aaron Lee said | May 21st 2013 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

          35,000 mark would make the lower level of the stadium look full.