The possibility of a new television deal for the A-League has many excited, but unfortunately all the talk so far has been about a large increase in monetary value.
Far more important is for the A-League’s best games to be on a mainstream free-to-air network.
Marquee games, such as derbies, are locked away on Foxtel, which only 15 per cent of Australian have access to. It’s a crime against football.
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Big fixtures have the potential to attract new fans to the A-League. Sadly, currently the minority who have access to Foxtel are the only ones who can experience the magic. It’s simple logic, people who have the opportunity to watch multiple A-League games a week are much more likely to start following the league.
I did not follow the A-League, or football at all, until my family home purchased Foxtel in 2010. It took a few weeks, but soon I was hooked. Out of my four friends who follow sports, two follow the A-League and two do not. It just so happens that the two who follow the A-League also have Foxtel, is this just a coincidence?
The A-League is being held back by its unavailability to the community. Yes, they can watch a Friday night game on SBS 2, but the farce SBS is putting on is never truly going to attract new fans. Two games a week are needed – Friday night and Saturday night, on a commercial network that actually wants the game to succeed.
The FFA shouldn’t just sell their product to the highest bidder, the network needs to be chosen carefully. Even if the TV deal is decreased, the game will be better off on free-to-air TV. A financial hit now could result in a huge pay-off a few years down the track.
If the A-League puts on a good show on a big free-to-air network, the next TV deal will dramatically increase.