Dan Silkstone reports that the AFL will look to move games to better suit TV schedules:
ANOTHER of football's longstanding traditions is likely to be broken with a new TV-rights deal almost certain to consign 2.10pm match-starts to history.
This is not a surprise.
The AFL are, allegedly, looking to push the price for the TV rights from $750 million to $1 billion. Currently marquee games are on delay: Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday. Yet the AFL want an extra $250 million as well as have the TV stations alter their current programming to run the matches live. Does this not smack of cake and eat it, too?
Can the TV stations make up the extra dosh by moving from delayed to live broadcasts? Do the TV stations want the football enough to push the price out to $1 billion? Richard Hinds, in today's Green Guide, reports that the current ratings are soft:
On the surface, some of the recent ratings figures do not justify the AFL’s oft-stated belief it is entitled to an almost 33per cent increase on the current $760million rights deal with Seven, Ten and Foxtel. Not when its major rival, rugby league, is gaining similar aggregate figures in Sydney and Brisbane markets for a much smaller fee.
Not just that: do the TV stations run games on delay purely to fit into their schedules? Channel Seven go on about viewer loyalty of Better Homes & Gardens, but do they really care that much about the BH&G income stream? Could running big games on delay means they can better pad their coverage? Surely, they would want to avoid having viewers turn off the sound and listen to the radio. Yes, there is the delay, but technology such as the Delay-o-Tron allows viewers to synchronise the sound and picture.
Up until now, the AFL have been unwilling to force TV stations to cough up more money and run all matches live. Belatedly, after the last contract negotiations were complete, the punters realised that, yet again, Friday night live was somehow left out of the agreement. Instead we were informed that Friday night matches were supposedly covered by and article of faith, a "discretionary" agreement, whereby the AFL crossed their fingers and hoped that maybe the TV stations would do the right thing by the viewers and show a match live if the match warranted the live treatment. For an extra $250 million, is this likely to change?