This from a mate who is actually a decent bloke even though he’s a Dogs fan. He’s also a very passionate Leaguie and he makes some good points about the way the game is treated in Melbourne. Feel free to forward or ignore as you see fit:
Hi, I live in Melbourne. I have for the past 10 years. I am a passionate Bulldogs fan and member (interstate membership) and love the game of rugby league. As a fanatical rugby league fan, I have had a difficult time over past 10 years I have lived in Melbourne with Channel 9 having the TV rights. I haven’t bothered complaining in the past over the atrocious TV scheduling by Channel 9 in Victoria, but had to express my feelings over the new TV deal. I get the impression that Channel 9 have no regard whatsoever for rugby league fans outside of NSW and QLD and I am fed up with it.
As a past example; I was led to believe that, under the previous TV rights agreement, Channel 9 would show more live games in prime-time in emerging markets such as Melbourne, but that never seemed to eventuate (maybe a couple of Storm games over the whole year, and then only if it doesn’t clash with any AFL on the other channels). They played the Storm’s first game down here on Channel 9 live (from memory), but that was only because the AFL season was still a week or two away from starting.
I have Foxtel (I couldn’t possibly live in Melbourne without it as a league fan), but I cannot access Channel 9’s alternative station ‘Gem’, so Friday nights I still have to wait until 11:30pm to watch league, and 1:00am to watch the second game on a Friday night (which is even more frustrating if your team ends up losing and you have stayed up until 2:30am to find out).
This means that every Friday I have to keep an eye on the clock and as soon as 7:35pm hits (time the games are played live) I have to shut down access to all media; no internet, no social media, I can’t answer my phone or check messages, (because a lot of my friends get to watch the games live and forget I am living a few decades in the past and don’t have access to live sport). I love a punt, and it’s sometimes a pain trying to remember that even though I ‘m watching the game in five-hours, it actually starts in one hour. This means that I can’t bet on other sports on a Friday night because if I open my betting account I will be able to tell who won the league matches from the amount of funds in there.
What I find even more disgraceful, is the finals series. Channel 9 have the rights to every game but don’t play them down here, (with the exception of the Grand Final). This means I have to wait until after they are played to watch, desperately hoping I don’t find out the score from somewhere by mistake. This is a ridiculous position to be in in 2012, when instant access to entertainment is the key to success!
Can you see, as a sports fan just how frustrating and annoying this is? In 2012 I should be able to sit in the comfort of my own home and watch my favourite sport live, but in Melbourne this is impossible. How do you expect to grow the game down here when not that many Melbourne locals have even seen a game of rugby league? I have had many, many, many people indicate that the scheduling is the major reason they never watch league. If it was on prime-time TV, a lot more people would flick over, start to learn more about the greatest game on earth, and perhaps become a fan.
People down here like to say that the people of Melbourne are ‘sports mad’. Well, I think they have spelt ‘sports’ with an extra ‘s’. They are only mad for one sport - AFL. And the major reason that Rugby league doesn’t get a look in? Channel 9 can take most of the blame for the lack of support for such an amazing sporting product. Rather than show the game live, they usually play an old romantic comedy movie starring Sandra Bullock, or even Lassie from 50 years ago.
Rugby league has never been given any chance to succeed down here due to Channel 9’s lack of support for rugby league in Victoria, highlighted by the terrible TV scheduling we have to put up with. To put it into some sort of perspective, if I did not have Foxtel and had to rely on Channel 9 for my rugby league, I could see a maximum of three games per week (although sometimes Channel 9 only plays one of the Friday night games). None of these games are likely to be telecast prior to midnight however. To wait up until 2am on a Sunday night to watch the game doesn’t mix well with getting up for work the next morning. Even the State of Origin was telecast at about 10pm when I first moved here 10 years ago.
You should be aware that Victorians have much lower take up of pay TV subscribers, (as their free-to-air coverage has always been pretty good), and with Channel 9 not providing any prime-time league it is incredible how many Victorians have never seen a game of league. Never!
What this means is that the majority of Victorians when growing up will never see a game of rugby league. I guess it’s therefore hardly surprising that most Victorians will tell you they dislike league, but actually know nothing about the game. They mostly say they prefer rugby union, (or to be fair, most of them don’t know the difference), this is, in part, because of the international aspect of it (which AFL fans secretly all crave), but mostly due to the fact the union is shown on TV in prime-time here in Melbourne, both on free-to-air, and on Foxtel. I mean, the Wallabies v All Blacks game on Monday night only had 23 minutes of action in it, and is boring fans to death, but it’s on TV down here, so that is all Victorians judge rugby on (as they lump league and union together usually).
Anyway, the crux of my letter is that I have read all the news on the new TV rights deal, and it all looks fantastic! Great for existing clubs. Great for the health of the game in its’ traditional heartlands. Great for fans. Unless you live outside of NSW and QLD that is!
Every Friday night this year I’ve been telling my nephew “Don’t worry, when the new TV rights deal comes in they will have the same arrangement as the AFL, where Fox Footy show all games live even when on free-to-air”. From the media statements, it appears that this is not going to be the case! I beg your pardon! But wasn’t that one of the key negotiating requirements?
Could somebody please confirm whether or not Victorians will be able to watch NRL in prime-time, or whether we have once again been left in the cold? If, as it appears, the TV rights deal does not help out with Victorian and other non-traditional markets, then despite the huge dollar value, I respectfully assert you have stuffed-up royally. This was the chance to turn the AUSTRALIAN rugby league into a national game, but you have proved once again that it is a QLD and NSW game only. You will never have a decent market down here if you don’t show games on TV, and this means at least another five years of the game staying an insular, isolated game played and supported by only two of the states.
The AFL, with their TV rights deal, have ensured that free-to-air subscribers all around Australia can access AFL in prime-time. Most people I know from traditional league markets have a good understanding of AFL and have almost certainly watched it from time to time. Think of the support the Swans and Brisbane Lions have (when successful anyway)? Most Victorians have little or no interest in league beyond checking the score in the paper on a Monday morning to see how the Storm went.
I live in Melbourne, yet I personally know more people that regularly attend GWS games in Sydney than people that attend Storm games down here in Melbourne. And those people going to GWS games are rugby league people! Well, to be fair, I think most are Parramatta fans, and they haven’t had a good year. And they take the whole family, so their kids play rugby league on the weekend, then go watch AFL! The AFL has created enough interest and promotion for a team getting flogged every week, yet a team that has been so successful still only has a small, cult following
Under the new TV rights deal, rugby league will not be telecast to most homes in non-traditional markets such as Melbourne, which means that children growing up in these markets will only ever be exposed to AFL, and will therefore continue the culture of complete ignorance of all things not AFL or cricket. I don’t see how that helps in expanding the game?
I am constantly amazed that only one sensible country has rugby league as its’ national sport, PNG. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the best football code by a county mile, and Origin is the greatest sporting contest in the world. I am more amazed that AFL fans haven’t ‘discovered’ the magic of rugby league, but it is pretty much all due to the lack of access to the game. They say that demand for a product determines the supply, well, in Victoria there is no demand for league because there is no supply.
I won’t be making any ridiculous statements like I will stop following rugby league if we fans in Victoria aren’t treated with the same respect AFL fans in NSW and QLD are treated, but I will be very vocal in my criticism of this TV rights deal, and the contempt that both Channel 9 and the ARL Commission seem to have for fans outside of NSW and QLD. For example, I plan to send this letter to each and every forum possible, so that we in Victoria, (and SA, WA, TAS, NT, etc. for that matter), are actually considered as being relevant and important to the game of league.
I love the game of rugby league, my beloved Bulldogs and the NSW Blues almost as much as my wife, (she is so awesome, yet league runs a very close second to her), and I will always be a passionate supporter, but I think the people of non-traditional markets are owed an explanation as to why there has been this back-flip on the importance of rugby league in prime-time on free-to-air. It seems that any promise that fans would be considered and treated with any sort of respect has been thrown out the window in your haste to secure your $1 billion.
How can the game call itself national, or entertain any thoughts of expansion, when the markets they are planning on expanding into may not actually have the sport shown on free-to-air TV at any reasonable time, so will have close to zero exposure? This is madness. Imagine a team in Perth starting out where the only chance fans have to watch them is at 1:00am on a Sunday morning, (having to get up for work Monday morning)? Well, that is basically what this deal has ensured.
I will continue to follow the greatest game of all, but I am fed up with Channel 9, and the ARL, not considering anyone outside their tiny little world. It’s a disgrace, has me furious, and ensures ongoing ignorance of league outside of QLD and NSW for the foreseeable future.
I am not after any assurances about access to league here, I have given up. I will admit now to all the fanatical brain-washed AFL fans down here that the NRL really is amateurish, that AFL is truly the national game, and I will have nothing but vitriol for Channel 9 in particular, who I feel have been letting me down for a decade, and now look to continue to disappoint me for another five years.
Channel 9, you are a complete disgrace. From cutting to the 6pm news during the last over of an innings in a one-day international, to your terrible Olympics coverage, you have been disrespectful to us sports fans, and unless you actually promote rugby league in non-traditional markets you have sentenced rugby league to remaining a minority sport when it should be the most watched game in the world based solely on the product on offer.
Firstly, evey time it sounded like he was Donaldson his point he woul start going on about something else so I didn’t read the last 5, or 6 paragraphs
But from what I read, I would hate I live in Melbourne honestly. AFL is a boring sport IMHO and to never get to watch the beautiful game that is NRL (and stuck thinking that AFL is the worlds greatest sport because you have never had the privilege of watching NRL which is in fact the worlds greatest sport ) would be a nightmare!
I honestly hope that Channel 9 and other partners will eventually broadcast live games down there for the sake of NRLs future growth and development.
Posted using RoarFEED 2012