2 days ago
Off the Wall
The total television viewing numbers for the AFL and the NRL, published in the Australian today, provide compelling evidence that rugby league is being massively short changed by the current agreement.
In both aggregate numbers of viewing audiences - free to air and pay - the NRL has a clear advantage over the AFL.
The cumulative total of NRL viewers is around 120 million a year - the AFL around 111 million. The cumulative total on pay television is even more pronounced, 28 million for the NRL, and 15 million for the AFL.
Only on free to air numbers does the AFL have an advantage - 95 million to 92 million. But the AFL has more live free to air coverage in the AFL states than the NRL has in NSW and QLD.
You would think that every NRL club would be giving 100 per cent backing to the administration as it prepares to talk to the free to air and pay owners...we need all hands to the wheel in the face of an AFL PR campaign designed to get it close to $1 billion for its agreement, which is likely to be concluded in the immediate future.
But now, the Rabbitohs CEO is in today's press demanding an end to Monday night football.
And what does he want to replace it with? A Sunday twilight game...which would obviously have to be on pay television as the free to air channels won't shift their Sunday night news times.
The AFL has a Sunday twilight game on pay - and is considering a Monday night game as well when it expands to 18 teams in 2012.
I have no doubt the Rabbitohs CEO, and his boss Russell Crowe, want more funding from the NRL - as does every other club. That funding can only really come from at least $200 million a year more from free to air and pay owners.
Last Monday night's match on Fox Sports attracted the highest number of viewers ever to watch a sports event on Fox Sports.
So why dump on Monday night football at a time when the AFL is clearly targeting more pay exposure - and more revenue?
What the Rabbitohs CEO should be seeking is more compensation for having to play on Monday night. Why put doubt in the minds of Fox 's management at a critical time without having a viable alternative - and a twilight match on Sunday is not as viable viewing numbers wise...unless the Sunday game on free to air is to be shown live post-2012.
The game goes into the negotiations in a strong position when the true viewing numbers are highlighted. The independent commission, which will oversee negotiations, needs the 16 clubs to be backing its strategy to maximise television revenue.
Monday night football will be a part of the negotiations. Club CEO's who want more money need to give the NRL as free a hand as possible - it is going to be a tough enough task as it is to get a massive lift in income without CEO's running their own agendas at this critical stage.
And when you look at the Rabbitohs on field performance, surely their CEO has more urgent priorities?