Today’s NRL State of the Game report revealed a particularly impressive set of figures, which NRL CEO David Gallop didn’t hesitate to fire straight across the bow of the AFL.
In particular, Gallop drew attention to the number of close matches in the NRL this year. As Gallop and the despairing AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou would know only too well, the AFL has had more blowouts than Summernats this year. And a lopsided competition is a predictable competition is a dull competition.
While the NRL still lags well behind the AFL in terms of attendance, one of its key advantages is its dominance in subscription TV, where it boasts 74 of the top 100 programs so far in 2011.
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It’ll be Moet & Chandon all round at AFL House tonight. In a deal which consolidates its position as Australia’s premier winter sporting code, the AFL has just announced a $1.253 billion dollar TV rights deal from 2012 to 2016. It’s far and away the largest sport rights deal in Australian history.
The five year deal will see Channel Seven televise four games per week. Seven will also retain exclusive rights to the AFL grand final, and pre-season Cup grand final, while Fox Sports will screen all eight weekly games live, including the games shown on Seven.
This is a major return to AFL for the pay TV broadcaster, which has also grabbed the high-rating Brownlow medal night coverage from Seven. Fox will also revive a dedicated AFL channel. Its last such channel, the Fox Footy Channel, turned its toes up after the 2006 grand final.
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Three weeks ago, in a bitter and premature rant, The Punch ran a story entitled The Suns’ Humiliation is Demetriou’s Humiliation.
The basic premise of the piece was that this hapless bunch of newbies, whose jumpers look like hot dog franks dipped in mustard, would not win a game until Christmas. As in, Christmas 2017. Not only were they an embarrassment to themselves, we argued, but a dagger in the heart of AFL supremo Andrew Demetriou’s expansionist dreams.
How very short-sighted of us. In light of the Suns’ remarkable win over Port Adelaide on the weekend, it is time to man up and admit we were wrong. To be even more accurate, I was wrong. About the Gold Coast. But not about expansion
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Karmichael Hunt was in good form on Twitter in the leadup to his AFL debut on Saturday night. On Tuesday, after a Punch team member tweeted how sick they were of the “ringing endorsements” for a bloke who hadn’t yet played an actual game, the former rugby league star tweeted back “LOL”.
Yes, even Hunt himself was sick of the hype around him. But nowhere near as sick as he must have felt on Sunday morning, after his AFL new boys the Gold Coast Suns were spanked by 119 points by mid-range premiership contender Carlton.
Usually, it’s foolish to write off any team after a first round shellacking. Not this rabble. Perhaps they should recruit a meter maid or two. Maybe someone should call Scott Muller, he of cricket’s “can’t bowl, can’t throw” scandal. At least his skill set would be on a par with his team-mates, most of whom can’t kick, can’t mark and pretty much can’t do anything.
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