April 24, 2014
In the months of March, April and early May, Australia’s four football codes are in full swing. Super Rugby, NRL and AFL have commenced their seasons, while the A-League heads towards the end of their competition.
When there’s four football codes on at the same time, such a congested market means it is challenging for every sport to get crowds through the gate and have reasonable TV ratings.
When the A-League finals commenced over the Easter weekend, one of those two fixtures was played on a Saturday afternoon at 4:30pm. This was an unusual time.
A-League matches on Saturday throughout the season always began at 5:30pm, yet for a finals match it was shifted to an earlier time.
It should’ve kicked off at the normal Saturday time-slot of 5:30pm or be moved to prime-time at 7:45pm.
It showed in the TV ratings as the match only rated 40K.
Then again, Fox couldn’t fit the A-League game on a Saturday night. There were two AFL matches played at 7:40pm, one NRL match at 7:35pm and one Super Rugby match at 7:35pm. Those matches were spread over the three Fox Sports channels and the AFL channel, meaning there was no space for football.
Towards the end of the A-League regular season, matches were shifted to the Speed channel.
While the A-League isn’t a high-rating league at the present time, this author believes that it is not right for the A-League to be shifted to different channels or time-slots so that it could accommodate other codes.
With the AFL having a dedicated channel, then does football deserve its own?
Here is the current content that football has on Fox Sports:
-A-League (all games live including finals);
-Asian Champions League (games involving Australian teams plus other matches including finals);
-Socceroos internationals (all games except FIFA World Cup matches);
-English Premier League (380 games live, plus highlights show);
-Covers other English Leagues like Championship, League 1 and League 2;
-Spanish La Liga (Two live matches and two on delay);
-Other international matches.
Also there’s football panel shows, including Kick Off, Shootout, Matchday Saturday and Santo, Sam and Ed.
In the future, football content will continue to increase.
Starting in July is the FFA Cup, where Fox Sports will show a minimum of 10 matches.
Those FFA Cup matches will increase over time once the FFA Cup becomes established. The A-League could expand to 12 teams as early as 2017/18, hence more content and matches from the A-League will appear on Fox.
An expanded A-League in the future could extend to eight months, meaning an earlier season kick off.
There could also be more content from overseas with other various leagues and more football panel shows from countries like England and the United States.
In the off-season, which generally consists of a couple of months, Fox could show replays of matches from home and abroad.
As I illustrated above, there is enough content for football to have it’s own dedicated channel. If football ever gets it’s own channel, it will allow the A-League to grow without the worry of clashing with other codes.