TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

by admincms — Fri, 08/07/2009 - 11:57pm — Last Updated: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 1:04am
admincms's picture

Begins with Round 19 for USA and Canada

For the first time since 1997, the Australian Football League will be on an ESPN network in North America.  Following the demise of the sport on Setanta, the AFL has struck a deal for live coverage on ESPN360 of 3 matches per round (weekly) now and beginning in 2010, additional coverage of at least four matches per season (year) on ESPN2.  Canadian fans will get one match per week (delayed) on TSN and repeats on TSN2. 

AFANA worked closely with the AFL and the networks to support this unprecedented mid-season change.  Coverage of the Grand Final will be on ESPN2 through 2011 and we are informed it will be live. Given ESPN's baseball contracts, we remain concerned about this.  We do not know what the Grand Final situation on TSN will be for Canada.  Unlike Setanta, this coverage will not require a subscription fee from fans.  ESPN2 is in over 80% of US homes but aside from the Grand Final it will not have coverage until next season.  ESPN360 is the "broadband" channel of ESPN and delivered by computer and it will carry matches live.  This service may prove superior for some fans to the existing service on Aussie Sport TV (the Telstra/Big Pond/afl.com.au service by another name).  Please note:  ESPN360 will not cover all 8 AFL matches each week so you will still need to subscribe to Aussie Sport TV if you wish to get every match on a delayed basis.  For those fans without ESPN360, coverage will be limited unless they have MHz Worldview or America One.

As AFANA gets more details, we will post that information on our TV Info and TV schedules pages.  AFANA will be revising our TV schedules page as soon as possible with new schedules from ESPN, and TSN, as well as MHz and America One.  For the first week or two, there may be some lag time as AFANA, the AFL, ESPN, and TSN work out the schedule logistics.  Those pages will be revised to reflect this new coverage so please be patient while we "catch up".  As always, AFANA will remain your one stop location to get all AFL TV coverage information and schedules for the USA and Canada. 

Delayed free to air coverage of one match per week will continue by MHz Networks and America One. Together, MHz Networks and America One reach over half of the TV markets in North America.  (See our TV Info for details on MHz and America One and to find out if your city or town has this free coverage.)  MHz has agreed to continue as an AFL broadcaster through the 2011 season.   They will carry the Grand Final on a 48 hour delayed basis.   (Ed. note:  America One will also continue and AFL matches through America One are shown on MSG+, available nationally as DirecTV ch. 635.)

Fans who watch coverage on ESPN360 may wish to register for an account at the ESPN web site in order to take full advantage of the coverage.   You will also need to insure your browser and computer can support the service.  To determine if your computer works with ESPN360 go to:  ESPN360 System Requirements.  There are also links there to install the "Move Player" add-in required for most browsers.   (Ed. note: ESPN360 does not support all internet providers and if your ISP is not signed up this will impede your access.  Please see the comments below for hints on what other fans have done. A list of providers for ESPN360 is here.) (Ed. note: (8/21/09) Matches on ESPN360 will be available for replay for only 48 hours following the starting time of the match.) (Ed. note: 5/2010: With the change to ESPN3, the service no longer requires the Move Player and now uses Adobe Flash.  Flash must be installed on your computer.)

AFANA Interim Co-Chairman Kimber Smith has a statement here on the situation.   Also, see her comment below.  (Ed. note:  Coverage on Setanta ended because of Setanta's financial difficulty.  The AFL did not take their carriage rights away and the loss of coverage on Setanta could not have been stopped.) 
Read the former Chairman's blog post on how we got to this point:  The ESPN Deal And History

The press release from the AFL states:   

"ESPN and the Australian Football League (AFL) have reached a multiyear rights deal for live multi-platform coverage in the United States and Canada. The agreement brings fans in the U.S. and Canada access to up to three live matches in each round of the home and away season for the remainder of this season and through the end of 2011. It also includes a number of Finals Series matches, including the 2009 Toyota AFL Grand Final from the Melbourne Cricket Ground in September.

In the United States, matches will be streamed live on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature live sports broadband network, as well as select AFL matches – including the Grand Final - being televised on ESPN2. In Canada, TSN or TSN2 will televise at least one live or delayed match per week.

The AFL’s agreement with ESPN in the U.S. and Canada follows last week’s confirmation that the league had secured ESPN as its broadcast rights partner in the UK and Ireland. ESPN also delivers the AFL to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean region.

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan said, “We are extremely pleased that ESPN will be working with us in the United States and Canada. They are a global leader in multimedia sports entertainment and the collaboration will ensure our expanding supporter base in the U.S. and Canada enjoy the highest standards in live AFL broadcast coverage going forward.

McLachlan also said the shift towards digital media coverage reflected the growing demand from sports consumers around the globe for live online content: “ESPN360.com has quickly become an online destination of choice for American sports fans and we are delighted that AFL will have a strong presence on the platform.”

Added Tim Bunnell, senior vice president of programming, ESPN International, “AFL presents a great opportunity for us as a company and is in line with our commitment to covering the world sports scene through our media platforms. The AFL and ESPN have a long relationship, stretching back to the early years of our company. We look forward to bringing the excitement and passion of Australian football back to fans in North America.”

Coverage will begin Friday, August 7 live in the U.S. and on delay Saturday, August 8 in Canada, with the Round 19 clash between finals aspirants Carlton and Geelong from the MCG.

ESPN – AFL United States and Canada Rights Deal Coverage Summary

United States
• Live streaming coverage of three matches per round and finals matches on ESPN360.com.
• At least four matches per regular season in 2010 and 2011 and both Grand Finals live.
• Live coverage of the 2009 Grand Final on ESPN2.

Canada
• At least one match per week live or delayed on TSN or TSN2
."

(Disclaimer:  AFANA is paid a commission on all subscriptions to Aussie Sport TV made through our links. )

Comments

Dave's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

What a joke. How did Setanta have a contract that ended in the middle of a season?! Ridiculous

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Dave,

You are mistaken.  That is NOT what happened here.  We posted stories for months detailing the financial problems of Setanta Sports.  The UK arm is in receivership and subsequently the US arm is having trouble paying it's way.  The contract did not end in the middle of the season, rather Setanta dropped coverage because they have serious economic difficulties and can't pay the rights fees or production costs.   This change was forced on the AFL and the footy fans.  No one planned for this. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

kimber smith's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

We've been getting responses and want to clarify:  The change in coverage was not a decision made by either the AFL or AFANA.  Setanta is doing everything it can to cut its operating expenses and stay alive.   (Ed. note: see the editorial post from the co-chairs here: Now What?.)

Sean's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Kimber

Something is better than nothing. However, ESPN360 live has its logistics problems, in that matches can start at ~3AM PST and I have no idea how to "TIVO" an internet broadcast. Pls do what you can to lobby ESPN to provide on demand Replays of round 19 thru the playoffs. Currently, there is no indication that ESPN360 is going to do so.

BTW, I have doubts about the AFL not taking corrective action to continue coverage for the remainder of the season. The Tri Nations rugby is STILL ON Setanta as far as we know. TNR goes on almost til Sept 19th. The AFL season goes on til Sept 26th. AFL is more popular in North America. The AFL should have done more to continue TV coverage until a tranisition could be made.

Gary's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Sean - looks like ESPN360 maintains a pretty comprehensive catalog of events in archive. Click on "schedule" then "replay". For example, the 2009 Aussie Open tennis played in January is out there, and quality looks great. I suspect we'll be able to watch AFL on "replay" too, hopefully faster than aussiesport.tv has been recently.

hymanp's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

 Peter

I am crushed, I watched both the matches, not live because hey, 2AM i am asleep, but i never missed a play, and watched and rewatched the highlights show every week.  I knew when Santana UK went under that this was going to happen, but I hoped that  a) it would at least get through the end of the season and  b) it woudl  be picked up and shown in a similar format by another channel.

Going to ESPN 360 is a disaster, unless they intend to allow us to see it in replay later in the day, if no to the 2nd part then my watching this amazing sport is at an end.  My first post here some 2 plus years ago was in part about my love of the game i had first watched as a kid in England and my joy at being able to watch it again.

Now are we again relegated to snippets here and there and just reading about it, if so a shame, a real shame. I have verbally told each and every person I know to get Setanta and watch the game.  

A Thing people forget is this, Sentanta is mainly about Football (soocer) and rugby, Aussie rules is a middle of the night game, and as mentioned a fringe sport, so for me the cost was no problem, because I watch both soccer and rugby.  However, to a non rugby/soccer fan, ie 95% of America, Sentanta was a huge cost, just to DVR/Tivo the games.

I will miss the AFL, I hope ESPN 360 does give us the chance of watching it on replay, if not, well such is life.

Thank you AFANA for all your work on behalf of the fans.

hymanp's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

 Peter

As a follow up to my previous comment, ESPN 360 has this mornings game available on replay, which hopefully will continue with future matches, if so I will indeed be able to keep getting my aussie rules and no tears in my household

Yippee

New Clear Power's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Honestly, putting the games on ESPN360 is not a bad thing as far as exposure. Setanta is only available to a small number of folks. I have Comcast cable and don't have access to games other than the ones on MHz and the occasional Setanta feed that Comcast Network runs...but those games are 1-2 weeks behind. Getting to watch the Geelong-Carlton game live (had I gotten up in time) is a huge upgrade. Losing the access to some games live for those who have Setanta will stink a bit but broadband is quickly becoming a reliable form of viewable media, with ESPN360 providing a pretty good picture as far as I'm concerned. The added access for those who are with Comcast, Verizon, and others on the East Coast will allow for greater exposure for the game. I think having a few games live on ESPN2 will be great -- hopefully they intend to stay live. One thing that's forgotten about the baseball conflict is that the Grand Final will be shown in the States late Saturday night -- 12:30 EDT, 9:30 PM PDT. This will likely follow a college football game...not baseball..unless there's OT, game should be seen in entirety. (Ed. note: Eastern Australia is 14 hours ahead of the east cost of the US, therefore the Grand Final starts on Friday night US time not Saturday.  As of now, there isn't a conflict with either football or baseball for the Grand Final but that remains to be seen.)

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Setanta and ESPN360 reach about the same percentage of US homes, about 45%.  Just not the same ones.   It is simply not true that Setanta was unavailable to a majority of footy fans.  According to the fan survey results so far, over 55% of fans could get Setanta.  The fact is that 40% of those chose not to. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Craig's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Rob, I'm not sure why one of the above comments states that the termination of coverage on Setanta was due to aussie footy fans not supporting Setanta. Is there any basis to this? My understanding based on your comments is that it was simply a result of Setanta's general financial difficulties, and had nothing to do with the number of people that were or weren't watching aussie rules on Setanta...

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Craig,

The proximate cause of Setanta dropping footy was financial.  On that point, there is no doubt.  We had at least 4, probably 5 stories on our front page over several months detailing the financial problems of Setanta, the demise of Setanta UK, the risk to the North American channels, etc.  Very few commented and we received next to no e-mail about it.  Very few seemed concerned outside of AFANA (and the AFL).

But why was footy coverage "on the block" at all?  Setanta are shedding many programs, not just footy, but why "us"?  Simple, if you look at the number of footy fans in the US and Canada, multiply by the number who could receive Setanta and then compare that to the number that actually did subscribe, it's disappointing.  No two ways about it.  We did not, as a community, support the sport the way we should.  Our current estimate is that Setanta has (err, had) less than 10,000 subscribers due to AFL coverage.  On the other hand, Setanta reached 45% of US homes and we have 150 to 200,000 hard core footy fans across the continent (based on other research by AFANA) then Setanta should have had 65 to 90,000 "footy" subscribers.  Even dividing that by 2 per household, it still is 30 to 45,000 subscriptions.   For all the complaints and those blaming AFANA or the AFL, the problem is at :"home".  We, as a fan community, spent too much energy on what was wrong about the coverage, and too little supporting it.  Don't ask US TV execs what they think of AFL fans, you won't like the answer:  "we complain too much and do too little when it counts".  I had an industry insider tell me this week that footy fans "didn't like it [coverage] when it was on Prime, on ESPN, on Fox Sports, or on Setanta.  And now they don't like it back on ESPN".  My blog entry linked in the original story talks about the historical context, too.

My successors, Kimber and Joe Smith, are preparing a new initiative to deal with this head on.  Less complaints, more positive group action, to grow and support the sport.  I think they are on the right track and I hope fans rally around the initiative.   The next few years will be critical. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Craig's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Dear Rob, Thanks for your quick and informative reply -- and I also want to thank you and everyone at AFANA for your great work over the years. Although I've been reading the website for many years, this is the first time I've commented or emailed -- the information you supply is truly appreciated by all aussie rules fans. best wishes, Craig

Alister's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Looking at the deal from an outsiders point of view, it could have been far worse. You could have quite easily ended up with ZERO coverage as a result of the Setanta collapse. I think you guys must be grateful for the fortune you have that AFANA are willing to talk to the AFL and networks on your behalf and get listened to. In a lot of other countries, if the TV company went bust or got rid of the rights, there simply is no alternative.

Even here in New Zealand, our AFL coverage is far from perfect. We still only get one game live per week, and each year I wait with baited breath to see that deal is once again rolled over.

Tom's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

hey folks i came across several web site that you can get live sports, one of which is [Ed.note: link removed] from there you click on live channels and then sports and the menu of all live sporting events from around the world will come up. You just need to know what time your game is on, there is also an option to chat during your games. This morning I watched the entire channel ten broadcast of the Saints and Hawks from Tassie, this included all commercials and half time showing the tribute to the 66 saints. Check it out, too good to be true you say? Click and try and you will get your footy.  (Ed. note:  this post was altered as links to illegal download sites are a violation of this site's user policies.  See the reply to this comment.)

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

After some consultations, AFANA has released from moderation the comment from "Tom" on other sources of AFL video.  However, we wish to state the following:

* AFANA cannot endorse illegal downloading, sharing, or distribution of AFL video.  Such activities cause harm to the interests of fans in the long run as they prompt even greater use of digital rights management by the AFL and it's broadcast partners. 

* Illegal distribution harms AFANA when it is promoted here as it suggest we are not reliable partners to the AFL, the TV networks, or companies such as SportsDelivered.  We are only effective for fans when we all do things legally and properly.

* AFANA is well aware of such illegal feeds of AFL matches as is the AFL.  Although we understand why fans might be motivated to use such services we discourage you from doing so.  Using someone else's property that you do not have permission to use is simply wrong no matter how unreasonable you find their policies or practices. 

Please see this thread:  http://www.afana.com/drupal5/discussion/australian_football/television_coverage/downloading_afl_games-774#comment-340

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Average Joe's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I want to echo Rob's comments and the need for this group to have a positive outlook for what is likely to come.

I have been a follower of AFL/VFL since the time it was on ESPN in the early 1980s. I became a regular fan effectively from 1990 on, first on Prime Network, then ESPN/2, then Fox Sports World, then Setanta, and now ESPN 360. I don't know all of the details behind the economics of Setanta, but as far as I was concerned, the incremental $15 a month to get live, complete game coverage of multiple AFL games, along with a weekly highlights show, was worth the price.

I want to note, I was a Setanta subscriber from the time they first carried AFL until this week. I carried Setanta only for AFL, and although I would occasionally view other sports on that network, it was solely for the AFL. I agree with Rob on a number of points:

1. When Setanta offered AFL, it was a chance for the fans of this great sport to vote our pocketbook instead of simply demanding coverage. We believed that much like ourselves, as people were introduced to the game, they would fall in love with it and the fan base would grow. That did not happen in the volume necessary, and when Setanta hit hard times, they "cut the fat" so to speak.

2. The economics of today do not allow the luxury of long term venture capital. It is not "build it and they will come" -- it is they better be here before we build it. And the AFL fan base is not broad, diverse or large enough to be a cash cow for Setanta. It is similar to another AFL, Arena Football, that just announced it's collapse and bankruptcy this week. The number of Arena Football fans along with the similarity to major sport in this country (along with some high end investors) was insufficient for that relatively established league to remain afloat. Our AFL never stood a chance.

3. Rob is absolutely correct that AFL is better on a "lesser" network than ESPN or the Fox Sports networks. Reality is, ESPN is going to bump AFL for re-runs of the 2003 World Series of *gambling term* if they can. I don't like it, you don't like it, but it is reality. We need to accept this reality. As great as this game is, it is not even the #1 code in the largest city in Australia!

4. One other point Rob has made that I agree with is that we may only get one more shot of voting our pocketbooks for AFL coverage. As more entertainment content is being delivered via the internet, I find it more plausible that the big pond subscription package or internet streaming audio will be the only available outlets for AFL coverage after 2010.

Basically, when I read Rob's comment:

"Don't ask US TV execs what they think of AFL fans, you won't like the answer: "we complain too much and do too little when it counts". I had an industry insider tell me this week that footy fans "didn't like it [coverage] when it was on Prime, on ESPN, on Fox Sports, or on Setanta. And now they don't like it back on ESPN". "

...my reaction is simply one of understanding. I would absolutely love for all AFL matches to be shown on a broadly carried cable/satellite outlet, but that is not going to happen. EVER. The choices that I can see are the following:

1. Subscription based content -- such as what we had with Setanta. Would be nice for it to be $15 a month for all weekly games, similar to NFL Sunday Ticket or NHL Centre Ice. IMO, had the subscription #s been higher around AFL, we would have likely got 5-6 games a week instead of the 2-3. Reality is, between the limited availability of Setanta and the inability for fans to vote their pocketbook, this option may never come to fruition.

2. Highlights package on a mainstream cable outlet. To me, this is a step backwards, and will likely get to the issues that we had with Prime, ESPN, etc. before.

3. Internet based subscription model. This is cost effective as it can be launched from AU, is less costly than #1, does not have similar availability issues (since delivery is via internet), and will have a broader market base (world wide customer base instead of single country critical mass limitations).

I personally think the focus moving forward should be on #3, with live (or near live, maybe on a 30 minute delay basis) to IP addresses outside of Australia. I must admit that I did watch Carlton v Collingwood a few weeks back on Big Pond's free trial, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality. Ditto with the quality on ESPN360 today.

I guess I am suggesting that we become realists here on likelihood of coverage going forward. I'm not throwing up my arms and giving up, hardly at all -- I'm advocating an approach where the loss of coverage is explained by pointing back to the inability of footy fans voting with their pocketbooks.

Doogs's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Just looked on ESPN 360 and there are no games available for replay. Wonder if this is a permanent change to things. A real shame as the ESPN 360 coverage was excellent.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Apparently the matches stay up for short periods of time.  AFANA has not had a definitive answer on what we should expect as far as replays, on a weekly basis.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Swans500's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I am very pleased with the ESPN 360 coverage, although I am fortunate that Verizon is my internet provider and that my beloved Swans have been featured each week since 360 took over....

The stream is strong and  reliable (No buffering issues) and each game is available on demand for a few days, which negates the obvious problem of recording streams, if I am not able to watch at the broadcast times. In this way it is a better deal than Setanta was.... this year anyway.

Why is it though that they omit the intro, half time discussion or events etc?

Dennis,

Pittsburgh.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I  think I answered that elsewhere but my best guess is that it is a rights issue.  Remember that commentary is done by the host network and outside of the match itself that may not necessarily be licensed for sharing online.  Also possible that ESPN360 simply isn't interested in using  it.   We'll find out in due course and let everyone know.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

The AFL has informed AFANA that replays on ESPN360 will be available for 48 hours following the starting time of the match.  Therefore, if the match begins Friday at 5:40 AM EDT, the reply will be up until Sunday at 5:40 AM EDT.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

chris's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

so just to confirm, are ESPN 360 keeping the games available to be watched for 48 hours after being aired? I tried to check the replay archive on monday, and there were no AFL games to be found.. just made me curious. regards.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Hi Chris,

The AFL has relayed to us that ESPN360 will have matches available for 48 hours (clock time!) from the start of the match.  So, if the match starts at 2:00 AM EDT Saturday, then it is there until 2:00 AM EDT Monday.   So, if you check at 8:00 AM EDT Monday, it won't be there!   Therefore, it isn't surprising there aren't any matches available on ESPN360 today. 

Now, if a match should be there and is not, let us know by using the contact pages here and we will relay that to ESPN and the AFL. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

We all held out hope Setanta would last until at least the end of this AFL season but as we warned several months ago, the service could end at any time.  Funny how people thought I was alarmist at that.  Hmmm... Puzzled   We also have warned everyone for 3 years, that if we lose Setanta there is no white knight out there. 

ESPN360 while not ideal and subject to serious limitations, is not a disaster.  I don't know off-hand how many US homes can get ESPN360 but I will bet it is on a par with Setanta (Ed. note: both are about the same; 45% of US homes).   I also find it hard to understand how the cost was such an issue with people.  It was never going to be free if we wanted live broadcast games.  I've probably been saying that for so long, at least since 2000, that is going to be my epitaph.   Here's my take on $14.99 a month.  For 8 games that is $1.87 a match.  You have to make your own value judgment knowing your own financial circumstances about what footy is worth to you but it seems to me that if you are willing to pay $3.99 to rent a bad 3 year old movie on pay per view or pay Netflix each month then $1.87 per game sounds good.  Some fans have told us they would have subscribed if Setanta gave them more than 2 games per week.  OK, at 3 per week, that is $1.25 per match.   So 62 cents makes that much difference?  Help me folks, I don't get it. 

The real sad part is that we don't have 100% coverage (and probably never will).  I was not able to get Setanta and I can't get ESPN360 but that has not stopped me from pushing our new leadership and the AFL to do the best they can for the most people, even if it isn't perfect.   It's not unselfish on my part, it is doing what is best for the footy community overall.  Ultimately, we all win that way in the long run.  Please check out MHz and America One, too, that might help you and it is free.  However, I know that if you don't see your club live this weekend when you want it by the system you want, the coverage seems worthless to you. 

There are posts elsewhere here already detailing how other fans how found ways to get ESPN360 even without the right ISP and it appears they will have an on-demand repeat system.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Anonymous's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Hi, Do you know if Setanta looks at Nielsen ratings when making programming decisions and/or if Nielsen has Setanta in it's rating system? I am just hoping somebody is noting that there is someone watches footy *wink*

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I don't believe so.  The ratings services charge millions for their services and I doubt Setanta could afford to be rated on a regular basis.  My guess though is that they did have some numbers via DirecTV, DISH, Tivo, etc.  Whether that included the AFL I don't know.  What I can tell you is that historically the sample size for programs on channels such as Setanta is so small that the numbers are statistically meaningless.   As a former math major, most of the ratings of anything outside the top 50 or so programs and the top 30 or so channels is very weak statistically (error margins are large compared to the ratings number).   No one likes to say this because a) programming directors don't want to tell the CEO that they paid millions for meaningless data and b) the ratings are so interwoven in advertising rates if you admitted this, the advertisers would get the shivers. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Sean,

Speaking for myself here, not Kimber, you can be assured AFANA will seek improvements where we can convince ESPN and the AFL to make them.  We do not know yet if ESPN360 will also make the matches available "on demand" later.  We're seeking answers to those sorts of questions but keep in mind that rights to all those "delayed" matches are held by Telstra/Big Pond/Aussie Sport TV worldwide.  Getting even this much on ESPN360 probably took some serious wrestling by the AFL with Telstra.   I'm sure if you search the web other fans of other sports have already assessed if you can capture ESPN360 and record it to your computer.   Footy fans will, too, if it can be done and we'll have info on that in due course. 

You may have doubts about the AFL not taking corrective action, but again, and I will be blunt:  you are simply mistaken on that point.  Setanta dropped footy for financial reasons.  The AFL and AFANA couldn't alter that.  They also dropped the NRL who are in worse shape in the US at the moment.  Further, do not assume they won't drop other sports or that they will even be on the air two months from now.  I will have a blog posting on this site later today that discusses the situation in historical context.  The AFL did everything I would reasonably expect here but if the other party is indicating they are terminating the contract, what would you propose they do?  Footy fans need to get some reality here.  The AFL isn't giving you a raw deal on this.  Frankly, as many issues as I have with this deal (and I have mucho), I am pleased we have any coverage at all for the rest of this season. 

AFANA knows this deal is less than perfect but we warned everyone for 3 plus years that if we lost Setanta there wouldn't be another network step right in and do lots of live matches on cable or satellite.   Setanta has financial problems but footy fans failed to do their part to support the telecasts either which made us an easy target for Setanta cost cutting.   AFANA will work to get improvements for 2010 and beyond, but to do that we need more fans to step up the plate and support what we have.  Aside: our donations and advertising revenue are down just like everyone else so those than can help us are encouraged to do so.  By the way, if you have references that show footy is more popular than rugby please send them to us, we can use the info! 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

John Hawkins's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Rob, you have hit the nail dead on. Business is business, and when any company is struggling to survive (especially in these economic conditions), hard decisions have to be made. I expected that Setanta would terminate their AFL contract at the end of the season (and to those who want to throw stones, I was a subscriber to Setanta while they had footy), but I am also not surprised that Setanta terminated their contract mid-season.

I agree that the contract with ESPN is far from perfect, but given the circumstances, this is the deal that we have to live with. We, as footy fans, failed to support Setanta. This may be our last chance to keep footy broadcasts in North America live and free. We, as a group of die hard footy fans, must show ESPN and TSN that the support is there to make footy a permanent fixture of ESPN's programming.

Tom's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Another kick in the posterior for footy fans in the USA. I did just switch to Direct TV so I could get Setanta afer the whole ITVN shambles, now I have a contract with them for another year. Oh and to my suprise, my local cable comapny does not have acess to espn360 so again another situation happening during the season, whose fault? Maybe eveyones, but if the AFL was serious about it's coverage over here they would not have left espn networks years ago and put some of their money over here, just another poor effort so late in the year and such a good year it was, too bad we won't get to see the Saints win the flag, in 1997 the Grand Final on Espn was delayed by almost 2 hours cause of a Giants baseball game so guaranteed the night of the granny it will be delayed again, sorry to dissapoint but this is true. signed angry Aussie in Michigan

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Tom,

I am sorry you are angry.  However, we have to be angry at the right people.  The AFL did not cause this problem and this was not a poor effort late in the year. AFANA did not cause this problem.  Setanta, like ITVN, was a company backed by venture capital.  It was a victim of bad management decisions and poor financial planning, and to some extent, the economy.  Setanta did the deal with ITVN, not the AFL.   ITVN went belly up owing AFANA enough money to pay our web expenses for 2 years.

FWIW, I didn't get Setanta the past 2 years either.  I can't get ESPN360.  So, none of this helps me!   The AFL is serious about their coverage here though that wasn't always the case in the past.   From the dealings that Kimber Smith, our co-chair, had with the AFL over this, it is my firm belief that they handled this as well as it could have been under the circumstances.  

Read my blog post for the historical background with ESPN:  The ESPN Deal And History  if you have not already done so.  You will find that the situation is not as simple as "the AFL should never have left ESPN".  We (AFANA) are well aware of the events of 1997.  We were in the middle of it.  We are also aware of the potential conflicts that ESPN2 has with their baseball contracts then and now.  I am not privy to what exact guarantees the AFL has been offered by ESPN this time around as I have not seen the actual contract.  Suffice it to say, AFANA is concerned but we'll see how this plays out.   Just as in 1997, we will decide how to react to any decision ESPN makes as we go along.  We trust (just for now!) they will handle things differently now than in 1997.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Uncle_Freddy's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

It appears that MSG+ (channel 635) will have a game on Monday afternoons through August (at least), so if you have the Directv Sports pack (which is cheaper than Setanta if you didn't have it already), you can at least get that.

I'm in a similar situation to others who cannot get ESPN 360.  I was a Setanta subscriber until yesterday.

The story mentions that MHz will continue delayed coverage until 2011.  Any word on America One, which has a few regional sports networks as affiliates?  Like many others, I rarely watched the games live, so having delayed games in nearly as valuable.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Yes, America One has verbally confirmed to AFANA that they intend to continue so MSG+ will continue to have games. 

Please note that the ch. number given for MSG+ in the previous post is for DirecTV only.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

nsu2112's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Since the listings for America One say it carries one tape delayed match per week selected from the matches aired on Setanta the previous weekend, how can they (or MSG+) carry any match after Round 18, when Setanta stopped carrying the AFL?  I wondered what match MSG+ would carry today, and sure enough it was older than the previous weekend, Carlton v Richmond from Round 15.  I can't see how they will have Adelaide v Collingwood from Round 19 on August 22-23, but I'll be waiting and hoping...

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Hi nsu2112,

MHz and America One will sharing the programming and MHz is getting it direct from Australia.  However, the logistics of that have apparently (as AFANA learned today) not been entirely worked out as far as America One goes.  We're in touch with America One and have no reason, at this point, to think they won't get everything sorted out in short order.  Keep in mind MHz and America One haven't had more than a few business days to deal with the collapse of the Setanta coverage either. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Uncle_Freddy's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Any news on what is going on with America One?  I notice they have pulled their game from this weekend's schedule and I don't believe a game aired last weekend either.  They still show AFL on their website, and it does appear in next weekend's (the 29th) schedule.  My hope is they are just working through logistics of getting games due to the change, but it would be nice to get some confirmation of this.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

America One's representatives have told AFANA they are having logistical problems getting the video of the matches.  They are working with the AFL and MHz to figure out an acceptable and economic way to do that in a timely manner.  AFANA is monitoring the situation and in touch with the AFL to get a further update.  America One assures us they intend to continue with the coverage but are in a tough situation at the moment.   This is a high priority issue to AFANA.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Uncle_Freddy's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Looks like America One has pulled the game from this weekend's schedule as well.  Bummer!

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Sadly, this will continue to happen until America One is able to resolve the logistical problems.  We're continuing to monitor the situation but our last inquiry with the AFL on the matter did not produce any useful information we can share.   We'll keep after it.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Uncle_Freddy's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Sadly, it appears that America One has given up on this season.  This was posted on its website yesterday (I'd post the link, but then the message never gets through the spam filter):

As of today, Australian Football League has been removed from the schedule. All airings are replaced with Everton soccer.

Any news on America One for next season?

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Thanks, Uncle Freddy.   We're aware of this and have contacted America One for clarification of their current and future plans.  At this point, we suspect this is just for the remainder of this season and hope they will get the bugs out and be back for 2010. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Rob in Seattle's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I have been a paid subscriber to Setanta for two and a half years - we kept DirectTv for that reason only. I just went and tried to sign up for ESPN360, and unless I have ATT or Verizon as my service provider, I do not have access to any of their contnt. As we have Qwest (we cannot even get Verizon), I am out of luck - I cannot even pay for content - - not much of a deal for some of us. I would suggest that people check to see whether they evan can gain access to ESPN360. It seam it is available to only a limited audience. I am crushed...

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Hey Rob,

My sympathies.  FWIW, I am in the same boat at home.  That said, it is an issue we will address with the AFL shortly.   Don't give up hope yet.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Anonymous's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

I've found that there is a way to get espn360 even if you don't have comcast/verison/at&t etc...

1. find someone who has access to espn360 2. have that person log in to espn360.com using your espn account (if you don't have one, then it's not hard to get one free) 3. have the person click on the button on the site reading "REMOTE ACCESS" 4. get the remote access and then have the person log out of your account 5. on your computer at home, log into your espn.com account and go to espn360 and begin watching

It's worked for some people i know so hopefully it'll work for those of you who don't have it.

Brenda Breeze's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

[quote] Just wanted to let everyone know that there is another option to see the footy games-aussiesporttv.com. It's available to fans outside Australia only. It will allow the viewer to watch the games on their PC. The cost is $59.95 for a one year subscription. Go to afl.com.au and find the link for international viewers(listed as intl viewers). It's for the 2009 season and beyond. I'm getting a converter so that I can watch the games on my big screen TV. So there is other options out there for us other than ESPN. [quote]

I'd like to know why AFANA hasn't told us about BigPond's offer. I'd really like to know why AFANA is pushing us to use ESPN360 so much. It's not available in my area. Kick backs maybe? I'm also angry at the comments made here by the former chairman. Just so you know Rob, I paid for my subscription to Setanta, thanked them for the coverage we got, and was thankful for what I had. The coverage offered by Setanta was much better than when I started watching footy in 2003 when it was on FoxSports. Remember those days anyone? One game a week and it wasn't even a full game, two hours of game only including commercials and no commentary. It was up to AFANA to let us know what was going on and you dropped the ball. Why were we not contacted by AFANA in a newsletter telling us what was going on as was done in previous years when we were going to lose coverage? Now you pass the blame on to us unfairly I might add. It clearly states in the article that this was a financial decision on Setanta's part and nothing could have been done to stop it.  I think someone needs a reality check here.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Brenda,

You couldn't be more wrong and more misinformed.  Frankly, if you think you could do a better job than the past or current leadership of this volunteer organization, please contact Kimber Smith, she will be happy to let you start right away.

AFANA has told you about the BigPond offer many times.  It's now called "Aussie Sport TV" and we run banner adverts for it.  Try checking these links:

http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2008/06/23/afl_online_video_becomes_au...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2009/07/24/afl_extends_free_streaming_...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/discussion/australian_football/television_c...
 
and that's just what I found in 30 seconds... However, many fans find the service unsatisfactory because it is unreliable or incompatible with their computer.   (Aussie Sport TV is the AFL.com.au internet service offered through Telstra BigPond and produced by Perform, Ltd of the UK under contract to Telstra.  It is the same as the "BigPond" service you quote.)

We are not "pushing" ESPN360 more or less than we have any past AFL contracted coverage including Prime Sports, ESPN2, Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports World, or Setanta Sports.  We do not make a dime off anyone who watches ESPN360.  In fact, we do make some commission if you sign up for Aussie Sport TV so arguably if we were as crooked as you think, we would do the exact OPPOSITE of what we are doing.

You can be angry at me if you want and you may have supported the coverage but most fans did not.  The numbers are indisputable.  Out of about 30 to 40,000 US households that receive Setanta Sports and have Aussie rules fans, less than 9,000 subscribed to Setanta.  We, as a fan community, did not support the live coverage the way we should have.  It made us an easy target when times got tough for Setanta.  Don't believe me?  Ask them.  I can give you their management's email addresses. 

We did let you know what was happening to Setanta.  I personally wrote FOUR front page articles on Setanta's troubles and even warned fans we could lose the coverage at any time (read the links!).  Did you comment on any of those articles?  Read these links:

http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2009/06/23/setanta_enters_administrati...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2009/06/21/setanta_faces_receivership_...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2009/06/02/setantas_circumstances_wors...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2009/05/05/setanta_looks_survival_form...

Why didn't you get a newsletter? Simply, the newsletters stopped because I didn't have time to do everything that needed done in AFANA.  We didn't have enough VOLUNTEERS willing to help.  Any fan who wanted to see them continue could have stepped up and volunteered and no one did (we even asked in posts here on the site!).  We ask for volunteers numerous times, here are just some:

http://www.afana.com/drupal5/discussion/australian_football/afana/have_a...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/content/editorial/afana_needs_volunteers-12...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2008/05/23/new_volunteer_needed_afl_re...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/content/editorial/volunteers_needed_2008-77...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/officers
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2008/10/16/how_you_can_help_afana-1284
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2008/07/08/new_look_afanacom_and_donat...
http://www.afana.com/drupal5/content/editorial/afana_seeks_fan_support-9...

I am not passing the blame unfairly to you because the fact is WE (that is ALL the footy fans) didn't do what we needed to do to support the coverage as I noted above or support AFANA. Over 99% of the visitors to this web site have never donated a dime to AFANA but are happy to use our services.  There is no free lunch, someone pays to run this organization. 

Up to AFANA to tell you?  Since when are we responsible for the fact you aren't informed?  The information is here on this site all the time.  If you won't check this site, we can't help you.  For example, if I charged a dollar for every e-mail I answer from a fan too lazy to read our TV Info or TV schedule pages, I could have retired years ago.  Most don't even reply to thank me after I answer them. 

You need a fact check, Brenda.  I busted my you know what for 15 years to help footy fans in the US and Canada.  Not once in all those years did the income cover the expenses.  If your attitude is typical, then I wasted my time.  I won't miss it.  When Kimber Smith decides she's had enough of attitudes such as yours, too, don't be surprised if no one is home here any longer.  Hope you enjoy the footy you won't have.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Bob's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Rob... I'm sure Brenda's attitude is not typical.  There are many of us long time footy fans out here who are thankful for all your efforts over the years.  You have not wasted your time.

Swans500's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Rob, I don't know what planet Brenda has been occupying. She is misguided on all counts. I for one have received prompt and timely info from you in all matters media since I have been here these last 4 years.

She must be some sort of crank, or a lurker who never actually became a member so as to be forwarded all your information by email as it occurs.

Dennis.

Brian Bay's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Rob, same thing so far for me. I watched some of Richmond-Sydney at work, but at home, can't get anything so far. I will work on it Friday night for Saturday in Melbourne.

admincms's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Regarding the Highlights package and the Brownlow medal ceremony:

We are advised by the AFL that they do not expect ESPN to carry either in 2009.   The Brownlow ceremony will probably be available on afl.com.au but that has not been confirmed.  The Highlights package situation for 2010 & 2011 has not been determined.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

HelenO's picture

Re: TV Coverage Returns to ESPN and TSN

Hey, this is seriously great to hear.  I'm one of the AFL fans who DID vote with her pocketbook and ante'd up for Setanta broadband for those 11pm and 3am non-time-shiftable games because I enjoyed watching AFL at a decent video quality level.  Telstra's lower-priced option that I used after that point, is simply NOT.  Their low-res cell-phone quality video is NOT as good quality as what was provided on Setanta's high quality setting.  I will give Telstra/Bigpond props for the on-demand capability they provide, though.  For what it's worth, when I'm in America, I use an ISP who's not on the ESPN360 list either, but I'm glad to see SOME Internet coverage back, at least.

Now onto another topic... I'm currently in Oz looking for work, and I read on the afl.com.au site that the cheapest tickets for the Grand Final are $161.  I hope to be able to spend GF week in Melbourne to watch the craziness and take some pics of my adventure (if I'm not working at a job I can't get away from by then, of course), as a friend just moved there from Sydney and I can probably stay with him for a few $$.  However, because I'm looking for work, I don't have much cash for those expensive ticket packages sold online.  Any idea how an American who's never seen an AFL game in person before can score one of those cheap seats (which for all I know may be standing room?) for that one day in September?

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