Off the Wall

A caller to one of the league programmes last weekend made the point that in the first fifteen rounds of the 2011 premiership, the Melbourne Storm won't make one Friday night free to air appearance - on Nine.

Given that Nine decides what games its shows, and doesn't show, that is not surprising. Nine has zero interest in promoting the game in Melbourne so why show the Storm?

Last Sunday's decision by Nine to show the Storm v Panthers game live into Melbourne just proved one thing - the time for the free to air and pay television rights is rapidly approaching!

But it is not just Channel Nine that needs to lift its game when it comes to scheduling.

The NRL decides who will play who each weekend, and where. Nine gets first pick of what it shows, and that game is the main Friday night game and so on. Fox Sports gets its picks, which includes Monday nights.

The NRL has a lot of explaining to do over the Easter/Anzac Day holiday schedule.

The Broncos play the Tigers in Sydney tomorrow night, the Cowboys play the Sharks in Sydney on Saturday night, and the Titans play the Eels in Sydney on Sunday.

In the second most important marketplace after Sydney, South East Queensland, not one NRL game is being played over the long weekend. And its zilch in North Queensland as well!

The NRL has passed up an opportunity to target the holidaymaker audience.

The AFL and ARU have made no such mistake!

The AFL has the Lions playing the Saints in Brisbane tonight, while the ARU's very downmarket version of "State of Origin" - the Reds v the Waratahs - is being played at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

This is just poor scheduling on the part of the NRL. The weekend after this all three Queensland teams have home games.

As media reports have confirmed, and as I have commented, crowd numbers in Queensland have clearly been impacted this season by the state's economic circumstances in particular - and the consequences of the flood/cyclone disasters.

The game in the northern state faces these, and other, challenges.

It needs every kick along it can get. A premiership match free very long weekend is hardly what it needs.