AFL on Pay TV

The debate continues with AFL supporters having to pay more and more each season to watch their favourite sides battle it out week by week. Each year the AFL sells more and more games to Pay TV such as Foxtel. This is making it much harder to support your favourite clubs with the cost of going to the games also on the up. This may all be great for the AFL in the short run with money pouring in but it could also be the worst decision in the long run.
Foxtel have signed a contract which has given them the rights to broadcast the sport for the next five years from 2012-2016 along with pay TV network channel 7. The contract may be providing the AFL with billions of dollars in the next few years but it also has the potential to ruin our great game for longer than its short term gain. 
Over the past few years, AFL matches have been split with half the rounds games going to free to air TV and the other half to Pay TV such as Foxtel. This has been quite controversial over the time as many supporters either cannot afford it financially and therefore miss out or are simply against paying to watch our national game on TV. Although now it seems the AFL has gone too far with this year being the first year that the pre-season series or the NAB cup as its well known can only be viewed on Foxtel. The NAB cup had already been labelled with ” its only the NAB cup” by many supporters . This only distances themselves further from pre-season competition as they are unable to watch the games if they don’t have Foxtel available to them. This is a shame and should really be looked at again for 2014 before the NAB cup is lost from all supporters. 
This is a crucial time with two new clubs making their way into the AFL. The supporters still feel distant to these clubs as they have barley witnessed them play and therefore the names going around at the clubs are not as highly regarded as their established rivals. And how are supporters supposed to learn more about these clubs or support them if there limited opportunities to watch them play are reduced even further?
If AFL was made so that the majority of the nation were unable to access it then what future does it have in the coming generations? If the kids of the future ant watch there heroes on the TV then the popularity of the game drops off and could basically find itself taking a massive backwards step. For instance if a family cannot afford pay-tv then the children’s exposure to our national game is reduced and therefore the passion cannot ignite. This means that other sports in which pay-tv will be showing will be the kids main entertainment and therefore will be the preferred sport. 
We cannot lose this culture which has taken 155 years to build. By allowing high priced media giants take rights to our games it takes it from our spectators and especially our future supporters. If they can’t watch there heroes play on TV then it makes it harder for them to be noticed and adored by children craving to be the next stars of the game. 
Although this is not the only consequence but if the support drops off as does merchandise  and membership sales. This would mean the AFL will most likely have to boost its food or entry fees at venues in order to maintain its losses if all merchandise and memberships begin to fail. As a result making it harder to attend games regularly due to the price and crowd numbers potentially diminishing. And remember in the end the only reason Foxtel are in this is for the following it has if the following drops off due to a reduction of supporters Foxtel will lose its reason to pay the AFL for their rights. AS a result the AFL would be in a crisis. 
We must not let this happen to our great game which thousands of supporters cherish. So by making some gains now the AFL must think what will it do in the long run. And if it means that e lose a large chunk of our nations future support we must stop and think is it worth it in the long run?.  With the NAG cups viewings being restricted already it had begun to disappear from our lives let’s not make the season do the same. 
Peter Tseros


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