-Rob de Santos
Founder and former Chairman
Chief Executive Officer
(This is the first in a series of long form editorials on the state of footy on TV in 2016 and the future outlook.) A long time ago in TV world far, far away, a small group of passionate AFL fans managed to get the AFL and ESPN together and save the weekly highlights coverage on US and Canadian television. It was an early and largely unnoticed accomplishment of the internet age as e-mail and newsgroups were the media used to launch coordinated action. Looking back, it was an amazing achievement in 1995-1996. It also was the catalyst for the formation of AFANA.
Over the past 20 years we’ve evolved from lobbying by fans to more sophisticated ways of attempting to drive the AFL’s TV strategy (with varying degrees of success). We’ve successfully helped steer them to new TV homes for the sport when old ones blew up on us. We’ve succeeded in keeping it on the air for 21 seasons without fail. Now, we have to decide what we do in 2016 and beyond. The answers for 1996 and 2006 no longer are the right ones. The TV market has changed. The fan base has changed. The AFL is far more media savvy than before and nominally, has an “international” strategy (although fans and marketing seem not to be a big part of that). We must change our tactics and strategy to deal with the AFL, TV networks, and fan development to match the world as it is in 2016.
Let’s take a look at the US landscape today (we’ll deal with Canada and Mexico in a future article):
A new number is on my calendar and it repeats every day: 2016. AFANA is in its 21st year and it will, by all indications, be a year of change. ...
This will be my last full year of daily involvement with AFANA as 2017 will bring ... my relocation to another part of the globe.
This is an editorial from the chairman of AFANA regarding the Essendon drug scandal.
There is a saying that true insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If so, where the AFL and its clubs find themselves today is a predictable outcome. Watching the Essendon supplements saga from a distance has been a long and torturous road with the end results (and we're far from the end) yet to be written.
Before offering my analysis of the scandal, let's look at the AFL drug policy. On paper, the idea seems well meant. Test players for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and for use of illegal "recreational" drugs (though any addict will tell it becomes occupational when it dominates your life) and treat those players. As much as legally possible, keep the results secret until a third offense and treat the players in private. Don't tell anyone beyond the doctors and selected league or club officials of the results and certainly don't publicize them. As a general practice, this is what some of my former employers did and it makes sense, but only to a point and if administered honestly.
(Ed. note: the following is an editorial from the management of AFANA in response to recent public statements of the AFL CEO.)
Once again, the AFL has muddied the waters and discouraged those working to develop the game internationally It reinforces the feeling that the AFL talks out of both sides of its mouth. Fans outside Australia are left wondering if they matter to anyone at the AFL headquarters.
Recently, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, as reported by the Australian Associated Press and the Melbourne Age newspaper, told the American Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne that the AFL does not plan on being an "international sport". Our
(This editorial is in response to the following post on the site of usfootynews.com: AFL Decision Fails Sport in USA.)(Ed. note: Link removed as no longer works as of Apr. 2013)
Our friend Wayne Kraska at usfootynews.com recently posted an editorial on why he feels the AFL has failed the sport of Australian football in the USA with it's latest TV contract with Fox Sports Plus (announcement here). Considering his arguments and those of the many fans who commented here on this site, on our Facebook page, and in e-mails to us, I felt it was appropriate to respond.
At the outset, I want every reader to know that I am sympathetic to the fans who feel the sport took a backward step with this new deal. In some ways, that may be true. I understand the frustration of fans who cannot get or afford to subscribe to Fox Sports Plus (FSP). I also believe that there is a lack of understanding by many of the realities the AFL faced, the alternatives available, and the history of both recent events and those since 1980 when the AFL first appeared on the then nascent network ESPN.
I want to address Wayne's key points because he raises some that many other fans have expressed.