An uninformed commentary on the next AFL TV rights deal

We have now seen a whole lot of discuss over the previous week about what the approaching AFL TV deal could find yourself trying like following information that Channel Ten is contemplating making a play for the rights, with hypothesis that the AFL has turn out to be more and more dissatisfied with the protection supplied by free-to-air broadcaster Channel 7, together with the ever-changing media panorama offering us with seemingly limitless leisure choices.

So, what could possibly be in it for the followers?

Broadcasting offers are extremely necessary to any skilled sporting league, be it the NFL, EPL, NBA or our very personal AFL. With out them, nobody would be capable to view or work together with the sport they love save for the fortunate few within the stadium.

Nearly all of us could be restricted to what we learn and listen to within the press. As know-how has improved, we’ve got seen sports activities broadcasting go from being described in beautiful element on radio, to the times of black and white after which color tv.

In 2021, the AFL’s income was $738.1 million. This was truly a rise of $63.3 million from 2020, largely on account of elevated broadcast returns.

Followers and a few sections of the media are sometimes fast to decry the league’s perceived eagerness to appease broadcasters, however given how a lot broadcasters chip in, it’s considerably comprehensible that the AFL has to stroll an especially delicate tightrope between pleasing the followers with out whom the league couldn’t even exist and the media giants that followers depend on to even view the sport.

So, the place are we at present at?

The present TV rights deal was signed in 2015 between the AFL, Telstra, Foxtel and Seven West Media for $2.5 billion over seven years. For that, we obtained:

• A minimal of three matches per week dwell on free-to-air tv through the premiership season.
• All 9 matches per week dwell on Fox Sports activities and cellular and pill through the premiership season.
• All finals matches (Weeks 1-3) dwell on free-to-air tv, Foxtel and cellular and pill.
• Grand last dwell on free-to-air tv and on cellular and pill.

There was additionally a number of market particular specs for states outdoors of Victoria. A few of these resulted in free-to-air video games being proven on delay in Perth and Adelaide, a scenario fully unacceptable in immediately’s media panorama however considerably exacerbated by the quite a few time zones that exist in Australia.

Taylor Walker of the Crows kicks the ball

(Photograph by James Elsby/AFL Images by way of Getty Photographs)

In some methods, we’ve made progress. I’m sufficiently old to recollect Friday Evening Soccer being proven on free-to-air a 60-minute delay (granted, I flip 29 in June). It appears loopy now, however that was even in Melbourne.

The rights deal wasn’t excellent. For starters, Friday Evening Soccer was thought-about the prime time slot, but was usually the area of Victorian groups. Not often would you ever have a Friday night time recreation with none Victorian staff.

Now that might considerably be excused given half the groups are based mostly there and it’s unlikely all of them could be down the underside of the ladder on the identical time. But it surely additionally meant we find yourself seeing VFL powerhouses like Carlton given heaps of Friday night time appearances over different stronger performing staff on the prime of the ladder (at varied instances this could be Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Sydney and GWS, to call just a few).

A significant bugbear for lots of followers was additionally the association in place the place free-to-air video games simulcast on Foxtel nonetheless carried the Channel Seven commentary. Now, I’m not sure whether or not Fox Footy would have been allowed to have their very own commentary on these video games, however it might’ve been good given ad-free broadcasts is the massive enchantment to watching video games on Fox Footy.

And let’s be honest, escaping Seven’s fairly mediocre commentary (extra on that at one other time) could be the cherry on a luscious cake.

And the place would possibly we find yourself heading?

Everybody has an opinion on how the TV panorama ought to search for the AFL, so now it’s my flip.

Fellow Roarer Harry Gibb summed this up so a lot better than I ever might final 12 months by referring to how the NFL breaks their video games into 5 classes: Monday night time, Thursday night time, Sunday night time and Sunday afternoon matches for the American and Nationwide conferences, respectively.

I like this concept so right here is how I believe it might work for the AFL.

Personally, I’m not sure the Ten Community can afford to hold even all the free-to-air rights on their very own and additionally it is arduous to see each the Seven Community or Foxtel wanting to surrender their rights with no battle.

So, you could possibly probably find yourself with Ten bidding for say Thursday night time and the Saturday matches, while Seven bids for the Friday night time and Sunday matches and Foxtel simulcasts all free-to-air video games in addition to carrying cable-exclusive ones.

Granted, this works on the belief Thursday night time soccer turns into a everlasting fixture.

It has been reported that Ten is contemplating carrying video games by way of Paramount+. Given the problems followers have skilled making an attempt to stream the A-League, this would want appreciable funding to be a viable possibility for followers.

None of this considers whether or not timeslots would stay the identical or whether or not there could be any adjustments (personally, I would favor to see the 1:45pm Saturday recreation be shifted to start out at 2:40pm). However a key requirement have to be that every one free-to-air video games are broadcast dwell no matter the printed market.

In fact, I could possibly be fully incorrect (probably I’m). Ten would possibly find yourself with all of the rights or none in any respect. Regardless of rising dissatisfaction from each followers and the governing physique, Seven could find yourself retaining the rights and Foxtel could find yourself simply strolling away. The approaching months will likely be attention-grabbing to observe as we wait to listen to whether or not we will likely be ushering in a brand new period in AFL broadcasting.

What are your ideas? Drop a remark under and let me know.

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