Television Coverage Q & A

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Here are some answers to questions and comments we get frequently here at AFANA.   (9/2015: This page is no longer maintained. It is obsolete. Go here for information.)

If you have a question please let us know by contacting us and if your question seems relevant to others, we may add it here.
  This information in this FAQ has not been fully updated in a long time.  Some old questions are kept for reference purposes. 

Contents:
1.  I can't find the network or the times Aussie Rules is on the TV!

2.  We got no warning that footy was leaving Fox!

3.  Will Setanta show more than one live game per week?

4.  There are too many commercials on Setanta and all they do is promote their own programs.  They should show interviews and other halftime coverage, too.
 

5.  Why can't we get the Fox Footy Channel in the US (or Canada)?

6.  When will Canada get live coverage?(Now!)

7.  Why is there no coverage on (my) cable systems?

8.  When will Setanta or MHz Networks be on Comcast (or Time Warner, etc.)?
I don't get satellite OR can't have it OR don't want it.


9.  How does ITVN work?  How can I get it?  Does it work in Canada, too? (ITVN and Setanta Broadband No Longer Available but NexTV and GekTV are)

10.  Will the live coverage continue next season (2009)?  Do they have a long term contract?

11. 
Setanta is too expensive for what you get.

12.  Does Setanta Broadband carry AFL matches? (Discontinued)

13.  The match selection is awful.  Why are we seeing {fill in the teams} all the time?

14.  The matches should be on at better times. 

15. 
The announcers should be American so Americans can understand the game better.

16.  I'd use the afl.com.au service but the quality is low.  BitTorrents is better.

17.  Why does the AFL charge for access to the online video?  It should be free.

18.  If the AFL (or AFANA) was doing it's job we wouldn't have lost coverage on Fox Soccer Channel!

19.  The AFL doesn't care about fans in North America or they would fix things.  They should be on TV nationally.

20.  We need footy to get back on Fox (or ESPN).   And what about OLN or Spike? or IN DEMAND pay per view? or Comcast On Demand?

21.  Why can't Fox Soccer Channel show footy?  Fox Sports World Canada did in 2006!

22.  The AFL should pay their way onto a major US network.

23.  If ESPN Asia-Pacific win the pay-tv (cable/satellite) rights in Australia does that mean they will begin airing in the US again?

24.  Why isn't Setanta part of the sports channel packages?

25.  If only the AFL didn't want so much money they could get on ESPN, right?

26.  Why do I have to pay for footy?  It should be free.

27.  Why can't we get The Footy Show?

28.  The quality of footy on MHz Worldview / MHz Networks via Globecast satellite or my local cable is terrible.

29.  Is Setanta Sports shown in any bars or pubs?

30.  Will HD (High Definition) telecasts of the AFL be available soon?  For the Grand Final?

31.  Will there be another exhibition in North America after the 2008 season?

32.  Why was information so sparse from AFANA regarding the lead up to the exhibition?

33.  AFANA was too critical of the exhibition.  You wanted it to be something it wasn't.

34.  You have no clout with the AFL.  You didn't {fill in the blank} like I expected you to.


I can't find the network or the times Aussie Rules is on the TV!

AFANA provides the schedules at this web site four ways:  on the left hand column (half way down) of every page is a 7 to 10 day summary of the schedule.   Our TV schedule page has a full schedule as far out as we know it.   Our Calendar has a full summary (current and historical) of the schedule in a monthly format.  To find out which networks cover the sport, see our TV Info page for a summary.

We got no warning that footy was leaving Fox!

AFANA reported extensively on the pending demise of coverage on Fox Soccer Channel (formerly Fox Sports World) and Fox Sports Net in our TV and Media newsletter.   We reported as far back as the summer of 2004 (we helped break the story in the TV industry) that FSWLD would become FSC and planned to drop all non-soccer coverage.  We got a one season reprieve in 2005 and again we told our readers that it wouldn't continue into 2006.  So if you didn't know, then maybe (hint, hint!) you should be reading our web site. 

At the beginning of the 2007 season Fox Sports World Canada lost coverage due to the new live deal with Setanta that included Canada.  However, when Setanta Canada couldn't get launched in time, some coverage was moved to Rogers Sportsnet.  Now that Setanta Canada is up and running, all coverage in Canada is on Setanta Canada only.


Will Setanta show more than one live game per week?

Yes, Setanta has said they will air at least three games per week, time permitting in their schedule, and subscription support being sufficient.   The other five matches will be aired on a delayed basis as scheduling permits.   The remaining games will be added to the schedule on a gradual basis when scheduling allows.   Given the cost of getting the feed for a match (even delayed) and editing it for repeats, additional matches beyond 3 won't be aired until schedule time permits at least two airings of each match.  Setanta is committed to air all the matches live by the end of their contract with the AFL in 2011.

There are too many commercials on Setanta and all they do is promote their own programs.  They should show interviews and other halftime coverage, too.

Setanta is a pay per view channel and as such does not have the same need to sell advertising so naturally they promote their own programming.   When they air these "commercials" it is in a break in the live programming by the originating network.  They don't add any time or shorten any breaks in live programming, they just fill the gaps.   You get the live programs just as they are aired by the originating broadcaster in Australia and with their commentators (good or bad!).   As of 2007, Setanta has reached agreement with the host networks and the AFL to air most of the pre-game, half time, and post-game comments when their scheduling allows sufficient time to do so.   You will not see the Australian commercials due to copyright issues (as well as the fact they advertise products you can't buy in many cases). 

Why can't we get the Fox Footy Channel in the US (or Canada)?

Foxtel closed the Fox Footy Channel at the end of the 2006 season and any future AFL coverage on Fox cable in Australia will be on the new Fox Sports 3 channel.  Since there is significant overlap between the Fox Sports 1, 2, and 3 channels with what they air in the US and on their Canadian affiliates it is highly unlikely that Fox Sports 3 will ever air in the US or Canada.

When will Canada get live coverage?(Now!)

Without much notice, Setanta Canada went on the air on 9 August 2007.  Canadian footy fans can now get live coverage on a very similar schedule as US fans.  Setanta does have live rights for Canada in 2007-11.  Costs in Canada are similar to the US:  CAN$14.99.  The channel is available on many cable and satellite systems including Bell ExpressVu ch. 420, Shaw Direct (formerly Star Choice), Shaw, Rogers, EastLink, Cogeco, and SaskTel.  See our TV schedule page for more details.

Why is there no coverage on (my) cable systems?

Contrary to what you may think, there is limited coverage on cable but only on those systems which carry MHz Worldview and now some Cox, Comcast, RCN, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-verse cable systems.  Both Setanta Sports and MHz Worldview are newer channels and as such, have limited but growing distribution.  The management of both channels have assured AFANA that they are working to improve this situation.   We went through similar adjustments with Prime Sports in 1988, ESPN2 in 1996, and Fox Sports World in 1998 (and even with then new ESPN on the new fangled thing called cable in 1980).  AFANA understands though, that if you don't get it this year, that is all that matters at this moment.   See the next question.

When will Setanta or MHz Networks be on Comcast (or Time Warner, etc.)?
I don't get satellite OR can't have it OR don't want it.

Setanta and MHz Networks management have assured us they are working hard to get on cable.  However, a subscription sports channel is still a foreign concept to many of these companies so it may take some time for Setanta.  Even though cable has had single pay channels for years in the form of HBO, etc. the concept is perceived as "a-la-carte" programming and they are skittish about it.  The Setanta business model means they have to negotiate not only carriage on the cable system but revenue sharing with the cable company which is more complex.  The good news is that if it works on DirecTV, DISH Network (as of Aug. 1st, 2007);  Cox Communications (as of Oct. 8, 2008 in limited areas of the country initially), the others will follow sooner rather than later.  (In November, 2008, some "all digital" Comcast and RCN Cable systems added Setanta Sports, AT&T U-verse did likewise in December, 2008, and most recently Verizon FiOS.  Home2US satellite has also added Setanta).  See our TV Info page for more on all the sources of coverage.  If you subscribe to Cox, Comcast, RCN, Verizon, or AT&T U-verse call your local cable system office and ask if you can subscribe to Setanta Sports.  If they don't know, ask them to find out or to add service in your area. 

For MHz Networks it is simply that they are new and their programming is different so it takes time to introduce it to local stations and cable companies and gain distribution.  As the digital conversion moves forward, they are adding many new outlets.  As of February 2010, MHz is on local TV or cable in these cities with the same schedule as we list for MHz Worldview:  on WNVC (digital ch. 30.1), Comcast, Cox and RCN cable, as well as Verizon FiOS in Washington, DC; and on MPS on Time Warner ch. 76 in Minneapolis, MN and Comcast Ch. 20 / St. Paul Neighborhood Network in St. Paul, MN; WEIU (digital ch. 50-2) in Charleston, IL; KCSM (digital ch. 43.2) in San Francisco, CA; KBTC in Seattle / Tacoma, WA (digital ch. 28.4) or Centralia, WA (digital ch. 15.4); WYCC-TV (digital ch. 20.3) in Chicago, IL; WHTJ-TV (digital ch. 41.3) in Charlottesville, VA; KUEN-TV (digital ch. 9.2) in Salt Lake City, UT; KBDI-TV (digital ch. 12.3) in Denver, CO; WDCQ-TV (digital ch. 19.1 or Charter Cable ch. 433) in Flint, MI; WCVE-TV (digital ch. 23.3 and Comcast ch. 202) in Richmond, VA; Student Cable ch. 182 at Stanford Univ, CA; WCEU-TV (digital ch. 15.3 and Brighthouse Cable ch. 1153) in Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Melbourne, FL; KLVX-TV (digital ch. 10.1) and Cox Cable (ch. 114) in Las Vegas, NV; KMOS-TV (digital ch. 6.3) in Warrensburg, MO; KSMQ-TV (digital ch. 15.2) in Austin / Rochester, MN; WLAE-TV (digital ch. 32.2) in New Orleans, LA; KTWU-TV (digital ch. 11.2) and Cox Cable (ch. 671) in Topeka, KS; WYBE-TV (digital ch. 34.3 and 35.3) in Philadelphia, PA; WNEO-TV (digital ch. 45.3) and Time Warner (ch. 367) in Youngstown, OH; WEAO-TV (digital ch. 49.3) and Time Warner (ch. 367) in Akron, Canton, and Cleveland, OH and Time Warner (ch.85) in Massillon, OH; WGPT-TV (digital ch. 24.2) in Moline and Quad Cities, IL;
KVCR-TV (digital ch. 26) in Los Angeles, CA; in Miami, FL on Adelphia, Atlantic, Bellsouth, Comcast, and Strategic Tech cable; and DirecTV (international package only, ch. 2183 and requires special dish); all with the same schedule as MHz Worldview. More schedule info on these outlets will be added as it becomes available.  Please check http://www.mhznetworks.org/mhz-worldview/carriage for the latest in affiliate updates. 

How does ITVN work?  How can I get it?  Does it work in Canada, too? (ITVN and Setanta Broadband No Longer Available but NexTV and GekTV are available)

(As of mid-February 2008 it appears that ITVN has ceased operations and is no longer an option for footy fans. Sorry. Setanta Broadband is no longer carrying the AFL either due to rights issues. Setanta is now available via NexTV, GekTV, and ConnecTV all at similar terms using similar technology to ITVN -- see the TV Info page for more details.This item will be updated shortly.)  ITVN delivers it's television signals over broadband (DSL, cable, etc.) Internet:  (Internet TV Network).  When you subscribe, ITVN ships you a box to connect to your broadband router and to your television and a remote control.  The router and box are connected by an ethernet cable just the way a PC would be.  Then you use either a standard audio and video cable or an S-video cable to connect the box and TV.   Once everything is connected and configured (sometimes manual configuration of your router is required but their US based telephone tech support is generally good.) you can choose to subscribe only to Setanta Sports or add some of their other services such as other TV channels, radio stations (US, Canadian, and international including Australia).  The cost for football via ITVN is identical to that on DirecTV, about $14.99 per month and the first month is currently free.  (The radio package is about $9.99 per month).  You do not connect this box to your computer, it is for television to your TV set from the internet. (
Although if your computer video card has a TV input that would probably work.)

To get it use our links to
ITVN.   The service is available to Canadian fans, too, but be sure to check on customs issues with the shipping of the box. 

Reports on the quality of the signal have generally been positive but quality is dependent on the speed of your broadband connection and the load on their servers.  Quality matched what we expect on cable but wasn't quite up to DirecTV.  The speed is adjustable.  ITVN may affect the speed at which other users in your household can use other internet services including the web however in one home with 3 PCs including 2 in active use, we did not notice much effect at all unless someone tried to make another streaming connection or download a large file.  Some users have noted that the box may not respond to the remote instantly but instead has a slight lag.  You can turn off or disconnect the system when not in use.   Since this is a "cutting edge" technology, it works well for most fans but not in every situation and on every internet connection.  AFANA welcomes other reports of user's experiences with ITVN and we have several user comment threads on the site from subscribers.  The quality is dependent not just on their signal but on the speed and quality of the internet service provided by your internet provider.  Buying your provider's fastest service will help.


Will the live coverage continue next season (2009)?  Do they have a long term contract?

Setanta has a five year contract for the current coverage (through 2011) and Setanta has said if the subscriber growth justifies it, they want to continue.  The flip side is that if growth isn't sufficient we may lose the coverage.  Like any deal, both parties (AFL and Setanta) will reassess it at the end of each season.  If they get sufficient subscription growth it will continue, if not it won't.  If there is one thing AFANA has learned since we started in 1995, there is never certainty in the coverage of any sport.  Reports suggest that Setanta paid about US$8 million for the rights for 5 years in North America, Ireland, the UK, and territories.  That would be a record amount for the AFL for foreign coverage.

Setanta is too expensive for what you get.

AFANA understands that fans don't want to pay for footy.  We have been doing it though from the very first day footy appeared on ESPN in 1980.  However, Setanta is a bargain relative to the standalone cost of live coverage.   Roughly speaking, to cover over 75 games a season (22 weeks including an extra week in the split round plus 4 weeks of finals, the NAB Cup, and the 150th Year match) and feed about 225 hours of live video from Australia to the USA, redistribute it via satellite, cover the ground staff costs, etc. simply can't be done for much less than $20 a minute.   And probably more. 

Figure that you will pay a 100% markup to the pay per view distributor for their profit and operating costs in collecting the pay per view fees and the fees for each cable or satellite company that participates.   Now take all that, add a small profit margin and divide by the number of footy fans that will subscribe in the US.   AFANA guarantees that it is vastly more than the $105 (~$15 x 7 mos) per season it is costing you to subscribe to Setanta.

AFANA worked on several live packages over the years, even tried to market several.  There never was any way we or any reputable TV company could have been doing this as cheap as Setanta is doing it now.   So, while three matches per week may seem too little at $3.75 per week, it isn't.  Ask Premier League fans how much they pay per week and you'll see what we mean.   We benefit from the fact that Setanta can spread the fixed costs over all their live programming in multiple countries thereby reducing the cost of the product to footy fans.

Does Setanta Broadband carry AFL matches? (Discontinued)

Update 3-28-08:  Setanta Broadband now carries AFL coverage  Update:  As of early July, 2008 coverage on Setanta Broadband ceased due to rights issues.  Effective with Round 1, 2008, Setanta Broadband now carries the same live, delayed, and repeated matches as shown on Setanta USA (refer to the Setanta US schedule on our TV pages for that information). Subscriptions cost US$14.99 per month or $149.99 annually and may be purchased by following the highlighted link. Setanta Broadband can be viewed via computer or fed via a media center to your television. Available download speeds are 300 kbps or 600 kbps. 

The match selection is awful.  Why are we seeing {fill in the teams} all the time?

Since the live coverage on Setanta is new they are still finding their way with match selection.  To a large degree though the choice is dictated by which matches fit their available time slots.   AFANA will continue to share with both the AFL and Setanta our feedback on match choices all season.   Our 2006 fan survey reaffirmed that every AFL club has a substantial following in North America.   Other scheduling considerations include:  ladder position at that point in the season and which clubs were on the previous one to three weeks.  Even if Geelong is top of the ladder, we don't want them aired *every* week and Melbourne, at the bottom, never on. This isn't fair to anyone.  Another consideration is the traditional rivalries and "blockbusters" which many fans wish to see.   AFANA continuously monitors the clubs chosen, the source networks used, and the time slots selected and that information is fed back to the AFL. 

For the Highlights and Match of the Week, match selection has traditionally been done by AFL Films on the Sunday (US time) prior to the next round or about 13 days before we see it.  Effective with 2007, AFANA and the fans began choosing which matches MHz Networks airs on the Match of the Week chosen from the three that Setanta aired live or on delay.   For the AFL Films produced Highlights, beginning with 2007, no longer features a particular match but instead cover all 8 matches in more depth and have more news of the league and the clubs than in the past. 

Remember though, you may not want to see a particular club again, but we can assure you there are fans that do.   Even those on the bottom of the ladder. 

The matches should be on at better times. 

There is no question that the better the time slot, the more people watch.  Unfortunately, prime time coverage of footy will always be hard.   With live matches, the AFL will cater to the home audience and that means more night matches which are on during the middle of the night US time.   With taped coverage, MHz Networks schedules their matches and repeats in prime time and during the day.   A peek at this year's schedule should convince you they are doing a good job of this now.   MHz Networks will be airing the Match of the Week during prime time in 2008.   AFANA is working with Setanta to see that the repeats are on at more reasonable times.


The announcers should be American so Americans can understand the game better.

We agree but it seems it will be a long time coming.  First we have to show the coverage is self supporting and then we may be able to convince the AFL and the networks that having an American doing commentary would benefit selling the game to fans here. 

I'd use the afl.com.au service but the quality is low.  BitTorrents is better.

AFANA has continuously raised the quality issues with the AFL and will continue to do so.  We can't endorse illegal sharing of match video by BitTorrents but we understand why frustrated fans are doing it.   The best thing you can do to help us get improvements is to also tell the AFL and Telstra BigPond that the quality needs to improve if they want you as a subscriber.   AFANA has made the AFL aware, and will do so again, that the changes to the service in 2006 and 2007 have made it unreliable for non-Windows XP and non-Windows Media Player users.  Audio listeners with non Windows based computers should search our site for references to VLC and read the comments with those threads for help.  Fans should also consider NexTV or GekTV.

Why does the AFL charge for access to the online video?  It should be free.

Unfortunately, since the AFL has contracted out the operation of it's web site to Telstra and Telstra paid three cows, two chickens, and many millions of dollars for the rights, the money has to be made back somehow.  Further, Telstra has guaranteed the AFL and all the clubs (except Essendon which opted out) so much per year in revenue (reportedly about A$500,000 per club per season) so that means advertising and subscriptions.  Thus the charge for overseas fans.  There is the legitimate need to pay for the server cost which is substantial, particularly to feed the video.   AFANA does appreciate this is a problem for some fans.  We'd also note that the if they made it free, then foreign TV networks such as Setanta might want it for free, too.  

For now there is an alternative, you can get Setanta's coverage via GekTV, NexTV, or ConnecTV at $14.99 per month.  Follow the links on our TV info page.
  There is one other option:  if you live in the area of an America One affilaite, their coverage is mostly over the air and therefore free.

If the AFL (or AFANA) was doing it's job we wouldn't have lost coverage on Fox Soccer Channel!

It wouldn't have mattered what the AFL or AFANA did, Fox wanted FSC to be all soccer so all other sports were going to go.   They said so publicly before they changed the channel name (back in February of 2005) and we reported that in our TV and Media newsletter as early as the summer of 2004.   Whether changing to all soccer was a good business decision doesn't matter.  Even if it was wrong, it is unlikely FSC will revert to the old format or take footy back.  Their management isn't fond of Aussie Rules and has made it clear to AFANA and the AFL they didn't want it any longer.  The loss of footy on FSC was not a decision made by Rupert Murdoch to slight AFL fans, it was a decision of his management at FSC that top management at News Corp decided not to override.


The AFL doesn't care about fans in North America or they would fix things.  They should be on TV nationally.

While there are still folks at the AFL who think any money spent on promoting footy outside Australia is wasted, there are fewer and fewer of them.   AFANA was founded in 1996, in part, due to the realization that North American footy fans cannot rely solely on the AFL to make things happen here.  Fans have an obligation, too, to let networks and the AFL know we want our footy.  We are one of your ways to do that and that's why we ask for your support. 

The AFL would prefer to be more widely distributed on US TV but the reality is that this isn't Australia and to most network programmers here they are a niche sport from a country far away.   They aren't on satellite because they (the AFL) don't care about us, but because the bigger TV networks here aren't interested (and yes they have been asked).   Things won't get better until we build the fan base to several times what it is now -- and that's what AFANA is trying to do.

Both Setanta and MHz Worldview are national just not in very many homes. But then when footy went on ESPN2 in 1996 it was in 2% of American homes. When footy then went to FOX Sports World in 1998 it was in 1% of American homes.  And AFANA heard pretty much the same complaints then as we hear now about Setanta and MHz.  So we have to be patient and see if things improve or not and what choices are out there for future seasons.

If AFANA feels the AFL has a better chance somewhere else, you can trust we'll lobby hard to get them to do just that. We also work directly with the AFL to make sure no stone is left unturned so if tomorrow we felt some channel with better distribution was a real chance, we'd bring it to the attention of the AFL right away.   Our recent efforts to find a temporary home in Canada for footy in 2007 (when Setanta Canada's launch was delayed), should be evidence of this. 


We need footy to get back on Fox (or ESPN).   And what about OLN or Spike? or IN DEMAND pay per view? or Comcast On Demand?

Unfortunately, none of those channels is interested in the sport at the moment.  All of them were approached in 2005-2006 and all declined.  AFANA works closely with the AFL to make sure no stone is left unturned.  And we'll do it again next time it is necessary.   For each of the past several seasons we have provided the AFL with lists of all of the potential channels that might carry footy.  All were contacted and in 2006, only Setanta and MHz were interested. 

Much as older fans want a return to the early days of ESPN and the coverage of those years, it isn't going to happen anytime soon.   In Demand (or Comcast On Demand or Time Warner On Demand) are always a possibility but at this point we think it unlikely Setanta will on-sell the live matches to anyone else.   If they did, the single game price would probably be almost as much as a full month of Setanta since In Demand or the cable company would take half of the revenue.  (Note:  As of November, 2008 some Comcast systems now carry Setanta Sports).

Why can't Fox Soccer Channel show footy? Fox Sports World Canada did in 2006!

(Note: FSWC chose not to continue coverage in 2007 and the rights to Canadian coverage are now held by Setanta.)  Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) (formerly Fox Sports World) is owned by Fox Sports, a subsidiary of News Corp.  Fox Sports World Canada (FSWC) is owned by Global TV, a subsidiary of CanWest MediaWorks.   Global licenses the Fox Sports World name and content from FSC but makes their own programming decisions and follows Canadian content guidelines and regulations.   Even though FSC dropped footy, the Global management likes the sport and decided to continue airing the sport and get the programs via another source rather than from FSC.   So while it may seem that they are simply two sides of the same coin, they are in fact different channels controlled and programmed by different people in different countries.   Further, the AFL licenses the programming by country so the AFL itself could choose not to license one or the other.  In this case, FSC chose to drop the sport after the 2005 season, but FSWC chose to continue thru 2006. 

The AFL should pay their way onto a major US network. 

The suggestion for the AFL to pay their way on ("time-buy" in TV parlance) might work and has been thought of except that the cost would be so prohibitive the AFL would have to abandon promoting footy anywhere else in the world, and they aren't going to do that.  Now if they had a sponsor to pay for it, that would solve the problem, but again they don't. So time buys are out, too, for now -- unless you happen to know a wealthy sponsor (please tell us!).   Given what the AFL can now get in rights fees for North America and the UK (US$1.6 million per season), it would be foolish for them to go this route. 

If ESPN Asia-Pacific win the pay-tv (cable/satellite) rights in Australia does that mean they will begin airing in the US again?

No.  While it might make it somewhat more likely, the rights for each region and country are negotiated separately and just because ESPN Asia-Pacific wants footy in Australia (who doesn't??) it doesn't mean the managers of ESPN in Bristol, CT want it for the USA.  In fact, they don't.  So, while it makes it easier and more likely, it doesn't make it very much more likely at all.  (Note:  Foxtel and Austar kept the Australian rights for 2007-2011 so this question is now moot.)

Why isn't Setanta part of the sports channel packages?

Setanta has chosen as it's business model a subscription service.  It's dollars and sense.  If a channel is part of the "Sports Pack" then the revenue is only five to twenty five cents per subscriber per month.  If however, they are subscription they get half of the monthly take or about US$7.50 per subscriber.   It's easy to see that it takes a lot fewer subscribers to be viable at seven dollars than at seven cents. 

If only the AFL didn't want so much money they could get on ESPN, right?

Nope.  The issue isn't just money.  The AFL historically lost money on the international TV coverage and only recently have the rights fees become significant.   The problem is that networks such as ESPN want to either show a) the core American sports such as American football, baseball, ice hockey, and basketball or b) show something they own and keep 100% of the revenue for.  Programs such as BASS fishing or internally produced programs, for example.   The card game (e.g. p*ker) programs as one example, are money generators so they get air time even though some people don't consider it to be a sport. The AFL would need significant sponsorship to get on ESPN which it does not have -- even if ESPN was interested and they aren't.  Yes, they have been asked every year for several years through to 2006 and consistently have said no. 

Why do I have to pay for footy?  It should be free. 

We get this a lot, particularly from Australian ex-pats.  Unfortunately, sport television here is different than down under.   We've been paying for footy coverage in the US ever since it first appeared on US television in 1980 on ESPN.  (And yes, you pay a hefty chunk of your basic cable or satellite fee for ESPN.).   What has changed is that we now pay explicitly for Setanta.  It was AFANA's assessment, which we published (and later shared with both fans and the AFL as far back as 2001) that sooner or later we would end up with footy as pay per view.  There never was any chance we would get live coverage any other way.  The costs of feeding the signal over to North America and then distributing it make it impossible to avoid charging for it unless you happen to know some generous sponsors.  If you do, let us know, too.

Why can't we get The Footy Show?

We could get The Footy Show if a network here thought it would have a sufficient audience to justify the cost of licensing it.  Remember, unlike the AFL highlight programs, it is a commercial program and it's not going to be given away for free.  There is also the likely concern about the humor in the program being understood by North American audiences.  Since over 70% of the viewers of the AFL programs are now American or Canadian born, any potential network would look at that.   AFANA has always had this and other football programs on the table as possible future items for our "wish list" but with so many years of fighting just to keep any coverage at all, it hasn't made sense to push for this just yet.  We may sometime in the next few seasons.   

The quality of footy on MHz Worldview / MHz Networks via Globecast satellite or my local cable is terrible. 

When MHz Worldview / MHz Networks first began distribution on a national basis the service was at too low a bit rate or too compressed so that matches sufferred from substantial digital pixellation and digital artifacts.   AFANA brought this to the attention of MHz management on several occasions.  Subsequently, the bit rate was increased early in 2007 on the MHz Worldview channel.   If you still experience this problem, please let AFANA know and we will pass that on to MHz Networks.

Is Setanta Sports shown in any bars or pubs?

Yes, it is, though most of the bars and pubs may not know the channel carries Australian football.  They may also be confused by the difference between Setanta Sports (via DirecTV) and the Setanta pay per view choices.  If the bar gets Setanta Sports via DirecTV or DISH Network then they get the Aussie rules coverage and don't have to pay anything more.  Remember, you don't have to sell the pub on Australian football, you just need them to put Setanta up on a TV at the right times.   Setanta has a Venue Finder online you can check for a local establishments where you can watch footy.   AFANA will have a package of downloadable materials available soon to assist you in dealing with local pubs and getting them on-board.

Will HD (High Definition) telecasts of the AFL be available soon?  For the Grand Final?

We do not expect HD coverage of the AFL to be available this year, including of the Grand Final.  Once the HD transition is further along in the US and begins to take further hold in Australia, we imagine that HD coverage of the AFL will happen in due course.  Setanta may well launch an HD feed in the next year or two.  Many of the matches are recorded in high resolution digital now so it is feasible.  One obstacle to live HD is the increased transmission cost of the signal in HD.  Given how expensive live coverage is, it's not financially feasible for 2008 but perhaps is more likely for 2009 or 2010.  


Will there be another exhibition in North America after the 2008 season?

The AFL discussed a possible exhibition for January, 2008, in Los Angeles but the logistics and financing weren't there.  There was some discussion of an exhibition in 2009, possibly in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida but nothing was announced.   After the Los Angeles match in 2006, we were told that it might be 2 to 4 years before another match is held in North America.   We can't confirm that an exhibition will be played in the US in 2009 or 2010 and the AFL hasn't made any official announcement. 

Why was information so sparse from AFANA regarding the lead up to the exhibition?

AFANA did not receive full cooperation from the organizers either before or during the 2006 exhibition and despite repeated requests, information was hard to come by.   Hopefully, the organizers will be better listeners next time around and be more cooperative with media outlets including AFANA.

AFANA was too critical of the exhibition.  You wanted it to be something it wasn't.

What we were critical of was the poor organization, terrible cooperation with the media, and that the organizers ignored our warnings of potential problems, some of which we published 2 or more years earlier.  We were not alone in our assessment, but only we published the criticism.  Other web sites and some major Australian media wouldn't publish what they really thought for fear of offending the AFL.  You count on AFANA for being straight with you and we were.   We would also point out that we felt that some of the rumored fees paid to UCLA for hosting the event were enough to fund footy in North America for several seasons.  If that much was to be spent, more should have been expected and achieved.  We don't believe holding an exhibition just to placate a few Los Angeles based Aussie ex-pats is, by itself, enough to justify the costs involved.  The future of footy in North America deserves more than that.  If $1 million is to be spent, then we should see real, tangible benefits to the sport here not just expensive entertainment for a few.

You have no clout with the AFL.  You didn't {fill in the blank} like I expected you to.

We only have as much clout as our members and supporters give us.  To get the AFL or anyone else to pay attention to fans requires that you support what we do, including financially.  Even then, if the AFL or media companies do not see any value in working with us or the fans agenda doesn't match their own, they may choose to ignore us.  The good news is that the AFL does listen to us, but that doesn't mean they always do what we want them to.   It's getting better slowly.  Today, AFANA has a better working relationship with the AFL than at anytime in our history. 

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Coverage on Setanta Broadband

Your FAQ needs to be updated -- I am currently watching the Saints v Swans game on Setanta Broadband. I understand that most live games that Setanta broadcasts will be available this year on the service. There will be no archives of games or many replays shown, but, otherwise, they will have most of the AFL coverage that is on the regular Setanta. Schedule for broadband available here:  (Ed. note: link removed as no longer working) and click on the drop down for Setanta-i

admincms's picture

Update has been done to the TV FAQ

Thanks for the comment.  Once we were able to confirm with the Setanta the facts and details, we updated the FAQ and are working on the other areas of the web site.  It's unfortunate but Setanta failed to bring this to our attention earlier despite the fact that we are in almost daily communication with them.  Although we try to monitor everything that is relevant to the footy TV viewer, things like this can slip under the radar screen when there is no announcement and no notice.  In any case, the good news is we have the footy on Setanta Broadband now!

Jim Bellenger's picture

AFL no longer on Setanta Broadband

You need to update your FAQ again. Setanta Broadband has dropped the live AFL games. According to Setanta

"The AFL decided that they'd take the broadband rights and have a service on their own site. They allowed us to show it while they were deciding what to do.......Sorry about that,"

The problem with this is that the video on afl.com.au is all delayed and not live.

admincms's picture

Short term update done -- see link for full story

I've done a quick fix for this issue.  We will be updating the FAQ further to include more info on GEKtv and NexTV if and when we can get what we need. 

For a full explanation of the Setanta Broadband situation see this link:

http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2008/06/23/afl_online_video_becomes_aussie_sport_tv-1041#comment-804

-Rob
AFANA Chairman and Site Admin

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