Off the Wall

It is about time that some NRL administrators, club officials, and former players who are now commentators, realised that we have a great product - and that there is no need for radical changes on the field.

And to re-enforce that, the opening round of fixtures delivered Fox Sports the highest ratings  for an opening round ever!

Add to that the fact Monday's nights magnificent match between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs was the highest rating programme on pay television that day/night.

The overall viewing audience, as reported by the "Australian", was up NINE per cent on last season.

The Raiders-Storm match, hardly the match of the round, has a viewing audience that was TWENTY NINE per cent up on 2011.

And on Nine's free to air coverage on Friday night did even better than the ratings giant, My Kitchen Rules, in Sydney. That is made even better by the fact the cricket was available on Nine's digital channel at the same time.

As the Australian's Brent Reid points out, the IC's pay television bargaining  position is greatly enhanced by outstanding ratings for the opening round.

So why or why are there coaches, officials, and commentators wanting to "tamper" with the bets sports product on free to air and pay TV?

First it was Darren Lockyer, now a Nine commentator, who wants more stoppages so there can be more ads to boost the "value" of the game as part of the bidding process.

Now we read that the NRL is considering a "challenge" system under which coaches would have a right to "challenge" a  referees decision, and that challenge would be reviewed by the video referee.

It would apparently be similar to challenges allowed in the NFL, cricket, and tennis.

Well over the last summer the cricket and tennis crowds were DOWN and the ratings were DOWN!

I agree with Bill Harrigan that we need to minimise referees errors. We also need to minimise errors by the video referees!

But do we need more stoppages?

Don't we need more investment in training referees?

Our game is strong because it is played by outstanding professional athletes - and it is a flowing game with far fewer stoppages than say rugby union.

It is a great television product - far better the Australian Rules.

So why do people want to tamper with its strengths?

Tweak the system for sure.

But let's keep its fundamental strengths.

And more stoppages would undermine one of its greatest strengths of all!