Poor Legacy

For various reasons, the Footy Bogan watches a lot of replays. Sometimes it goes like this. A goal is kicked after a really amazing passage of play, one you would want to watch from several different camera angles, dissect and analyse. The replay presents the goal-kicker trotting to the bench; it then tracks another player running to position; all the while treating you to a conversation replete with arcane trivia and sundry other nonsense. Next, the camera offers a view of the central umpire engaged in a pre-bounce ritual presumably appealing to the footy gods for a propitious bounce. Sometimes, you might see a few seconds showing the goal being kicked. Riveting television. Not.

Why is it so? Maybe I heard it; maybe I just worked it out for myself. I don’t remember. I believe it goes like this. I may have some (or even all) of the details wrong.

When Channel 9 had the footy it shared it with Channel 10 and Foxtel. Each entity aired the shows it had bid for and no other.

“Under the 2007-11 deal, networks Seven and Ten both showed two matches each week, with the other four being telecast by Foxtel.

“There will be nine games per round from 2012 onwards, with the competition expanding to 18 teams following the inclusion of Greater Western Sydney.”1

The last time the TV rights were offered (2012-2016), Channel 7 and Foxtel bid, Channel 10 pulled out and Channel 9 either didn’t bid or dropped out early. Channel 7 “won” – but it “won” too well. It had to find more money than it was counting on paying for the right to show some of the games. For some reason, in Channel 7’s view, some footy is good; too much footy is not so good. I doubt that readers of The Footy Almanac would agree. They’d incline more towards H. G. Nelson’s view that “too much footy is never enough”.

Foxtel offered Channel 7 a way out of the difficulty. “All games will be shown live on pay TV provider Foxtel …”1

The new arrangement went into operation and for a while things went swimmingly. Then people woke up. Then Channel 7 woke up. People like the Footy Bogan were preferring to watch the live broadcast on Foxtel because it offered an experience that was ad-free for the whole quarter. So if you watched Channel 7, after most goals, they’d go to an ad. If you watched the simultaneous feed on Foxtel, you’d see all the replays of the goal before the next bounce.

Channel 7 realised it had been snookered. So it retaliated. By some bewildering logic they decided that they would not show anything remotely interesting during ad breaks. Like that’s going to make me switch to watching Channel 7’s feed. How does it go? Watch a boring feed or watch an ad? Well, the Footy Bogan’s personal preference is to watch paint dry rather than watch an ad. But you may have other leanings.

Very smart, Channel 7.

So, these feeds are kept for posterity (without ads). They are available at http://www.afl.com.au/video/smart-replay (along with Foxtel’s). At some time in the future, some innocents are going to sit down to watch how footy was played 10, 20, 30 years ago – and they are going to think this must be some sort of joke. Who was running Channel 7 in those days? they’ll wonder. Because of course games broadcast by Foxtel have superb post-goal coverage. You get 4 or 5 different camera angles.

With the rights for the next 5 years (2017-2021) about to go on offer, this issue could not be more relevant or more timely. The Footy Bogan understands a little about commercial realities. Channel 7 doesn’t stump up its share of $2billion for fun. It wants to make a profit, and for so-called free-to-air television that means selling air time to advertisers.

Nor is the Footy Bogan much of a negotiator. But you’d think that some of the good folks down at AFL headquarters might know a bit about negotiations. At the least, they’d know where to get hold of a Harry M Miller or such.

So the Footy Bogan is hoping that the AFL can work out a deal where all the parties get a reasonable deal without selling out future generations of footy supporters. Fans have shown themselves to be fickle. They’ll put up with a raw deal for a while; and then a tipping point will be reached and they’ll vote with their feet – as they have done in the past.

The alternative will result in our kids and grandkids being left a poor legacy.




[1] http://www.weststigersforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=170744



About Charlie Krebs

The Footy Bogan is a self-confessed unrepentant Collingwood tragic. For more years than he cares to remember he has been writing about footy, mainly Collingwood, but sometimes, when provoked, about related matters. He started his self-titled blog in July 2011 when - but you can read all about that at http://thefootybogan.blogspot.com.au/

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