Even though the current AFL $1.25 billion broadcast rights deal does not expire until 2016, what better time to pump up the rights discussion than after an AFL Grand Final? With two years left on the deal, the subject appears in the media today with ‘talks on a new deal to open within weeks’.
That may be the case, but with the hammering the AFL got from diminishing crowds this season, I for one would be wary of how much money I’d invest in a product that is on the nose with a lot of fans. Add to that a schedule that throws up less than interesting contests ie. GWS v Gold Coast, GWS v Melbourne, Melbourne v anyone, 7.00pm matches on a Sunday, 7.00pm matches on Monday and I’d suggest that the dollars may not be there for a deal as big as the AFL expects (at least $3 billion over 10 years).
The AFL says that they have listened to the fans complaints about scheduling and the cost to families of attending games. I’ll am keen to see just what changes are actually made.
If the AFL want an increase then they should consider ‘innovation’ to help things along. As a suggestion, why not introduce conference style play similar to the NFL. Not only would this spice things up but would also solve some of the inequities of the current fixture. This could be accomplished by placing one team from each of SA, WA, NSW and Qld in separate conferences and then splitting the ten from Victoria between the two so that each conference has nine teams. A team would play each team in its own conference twice (16 matches) and each team in the other conference once making a season total of 25 matches.
The top four teams in each conference would progress to the final series with 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 playing in each conference, the winners of those games each playing in a preliminary final and then the winning team from each conference plays in the grand final.
The extra ‘productivity’ by the players (3 extra matches in a season) would justify the ever increasing salaries the players are receiving.