AFL overestimate supporters’ attitude to pay TV

It is a disgrace when on a brisk Saturday in May, only ONE game out of FOUR being played today, can be viewed on television.

Last weekend when there was no free-to-air televising of any day games, my daughter and I decided to go for a stroll into the ‘centre hub’ of our busy little suburb, hoping to find an establishment with pay TV – our position of last resort.

One of the cafes, hosting three large TV screens, was surprisingly not showing the footy. On asking the manager we were told there was no pay TV there – it wasn’t worth the cost.

Around the corner is a wonderful little tavern (run incidentally by a former 70s VFL player and Carlton (#8) legend!).

I thought that was a sure bet!

That TV was displaying horseracing as a few patrons sat quietly at the bar having a chat, while others huddled in the beer garden at the rear. When I asked about the footy (ie: pay TV) I was told no pay TV footy … not worth the cost.

The next day, having learned our lesson, we drove 15 minutes down the highway to a Pub/Club bistro venue that has a ‘sports lounge’ and settled in with drinks, nibbles and the day’s newspapers.

Enjoyable, albeit a bit costly and inconvenient.

Is this a taste of things to come given the deal that’s just been struck?

If small local venues are not prepared to invest in pay TV sports coverage for their patrons, then they must have assessed it’s not worth the outlay.

While some sports devotees have invested in pay tv, the AFL has seriously overestimated the football loving public. The financial inability and more importantly the reticence of a large portion of footy followers to have pay TV as a household necessity has apparently not been given due consideration. And with that, the AFL has marginalised these fans with respect to the future of football in terms of television coverage – supposedly one of the key elements of its business plan.

The positive is that we’ve been thrown the bone of a total of four free-to-air matches each weekend and ‘Live’ or ‘near Live’ Friday night coverage depending on where you live. I have to say the term ‘near Live’ always amuses me – bit like being ‘a bit pregnant’ – either it’s LIVE or NOT LIVE and therefore it’s delayed!

While this will all be discussed around the water-cooler ad infinitum in the months and seasons to come, what we face right now is the occasional absence of footy on the telly on a Saturday night – a sad vision of things to come for those of us who like to put up our feet with a drink and a love of watching ‘footy’ on the telly.

Thank God for ABC Grandstand radio coverage and Twitter updates.

About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.


  1. It is outstanding to think that majority of AFL games will be broadcasted on pay TV next year. And the AFL say they are all for the fans of the game. Pfft!

  2. Phantom says

    We had better get used to it. Thats what happens in totalitarian regimes.

    ‘Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely’

  3. There were some comments on SEN radio in the wake of the rights announcement contrasting our football broadcast situation with English Premier League. By comparison, our situation is bloody marvellous. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but in the modern game the revenue from broadcast rights is a crucial input. We should be grateful that Citizen Murdoch is fully engaged with NRL and doesn’t see a cash cow in the AFL competition.

  4. smokie88 says

    It was mind-boggling that there was no free-to-air game on a Saturday night in Melbourne. Even more so given the recent comments from the AFL that, in future, the “best” games would be shown on Friday and Saturday nights.

  5. Jill,
    The sad part is that we can’t get to an MCG game each Saturday afternoon because of the draw.
    FOX footy coverage is vastly superior to the awful Ch7 product but the cost is a joke. You pay for a million stations. I’ve only watched Sports 1,2,3, FSN, CNN Sport, TVN – but we apparently pay for all sorts of other unwanted services. If it goes up I am quitting!

  6. Saintly says

    Yes thank goodness for the Radio in all parts of australia ”The theatre of the mind’
    At least we know every week when games will be played with our huge tv deal as oposed to the league where tv decides a fortnight out.

  7. Neil Belford says

    Well here is a tip for people (and surfers) trapped on the Surfcoast – now that the Aireys Inlet pub has shut Foxtel footy is hard to find. Forget Anglesea – ‘too expensive’ everywhere. Forget the Lorne Hotel or Erskine House or any cafes on High St Malvern – sorry, I meant Mountjoy Parade Lorne – ‘too expensive’.

    You need the corner bar at the Grand Pacific Hotel – where the fisherman used to drink when Lorne still had fishermen and where the pool table still is. But you might have to ask the staff to turn it on because there is often nobody in that bar – being as it is that the Grand Pacific isn’t really a pub anymore it is more of a restaurant with accommodation. Not sure why it is not ‘too expensive’ there. Maybe they have it in the guest rooms.

  8. johnharms says

    Only in the environs of good old Geelong could they call a pub which points at Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean the Grand Pacific. But at least you get the footy there by the sound of it.

  9. Basketball was going gangbusters in the 80s and 90s, then they sold to Pay TV. There is more atmosphere on the moon than at an NBL game these days, lets not kid ourselves that the same can’t happen to footy.

  10. Peter Schumacher says

    I agree with the Jill Scanlon’s thoughts.

    Some argue that with the AFL product now so much better on pay TV there are bound top be more subscribers.

    I have been tempted myself, at times, but the fact is that for our household it is a luxury that we can’t afford. and I bet you that what with the high cost of necessities at the present time this is the case in many households.

    Speaks volumes that commercial establishments won’t use Pay TV because it costs too much.

    And I agree with the sentiment that the idea of “near live” is nonsense.

    I just think that this whole commercialisation of sport will ultimately ruin it. Mug punters will get sick of the crassness that commercial intervention invariably brings and after a while they will cease to be mugs and get sick of the whole damned thing.

  11. I would have watched last night if it was on FOX.

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